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Boeing working around the clock on 787 Dreamliner issues

Boeing 787 Dreamliner in flight.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner in flight.

The Boeing Company is working around the clock with its customers and various regulatory and investigative authorities to find answers as quickly as possible to a series of issues with their new 787 Dreamliner plane.

"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney, in a statement on Wednesday. “We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service. Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers."

All Nippon Airways emergency

Issues with the Dreamliner continued on Wednesday when an All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 flight made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport due to technical problems. All 137 passengers and crew were evacuated safely from the aircraft, ANA reported in a press statement. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending an investigator to Japan to assist in investigating the incident.

“Initial reports indicate that the flight crew received multiple messages in the cockpit concerning the battery and other systems that were affected, and also reported an odor in the cockpit and the cabin” the NTSB said. “The airplane subsequently landed, and passengers and crew evacuated via emergency slides.”

The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) is leading the investigation. The NTSB has designated investigator Lorenda Ward as the U. S. accredited representative to the JTSB's investigation and representatives will accompany her from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing. The U.S. team is expected to arrive in Japan early Friday morning.

Cease operations

The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive on Wednesday to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and required all U.S. operators to temporarily cease operations. “Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the FAA that the batteries are safe,” the agency said.

The in-flight Japanese battery incident on Wednesday followed an earlier 787-battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on Jan. 7. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.

On Friday, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification.

United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes in service. When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive, it also alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.

Polish 787 inaugural flight

Meanwhile, LOT Polish Airlines was scheduled to inaugurate their new 787 Dreamliner nonstop service from Chicago to Warsaw on Wednesday, “and make aviation history as the first airline with scheduled Dreamliner service from Chicago's O'Hare Airport,” the company said. The airline later announced it was cancelling its inaugural Dreamliner flight.

LOT is the first European carrier to operate the Dreamliner with a total of eight aircraft to be in their fleet. LOT's Dreamliner inaugural flight from Chicago to Warsaw on Wednesday would have been followed by Toronto on Feb. 1 and New York's JFK on Feb 3.

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