787 Fleet Worldwide Grounded

Battery fire threat prompts FAA emergency order.

ANA 787

ANA 787

The FAA and EASA have temporarily grounded the U.S. and European fleets of Boeing 787s after a second incident involving a battery fire forced a Dreamliner to make an emergency landing in Japan on Wednesday.

The FAA said Boeing would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries involved were safe before 787 flights could resume, but the agency gave no details on when that might happen. The U.S. directive applies only to United Airlines, but the FAA was urging other airlines to follow suit and temporarily suspend 787 flights. Airlines have heeded that advice, effectively grounding the world 787 fleet.

Japan’s two biggest airlines grounded their Boeing 787 fleets on Wednesday after an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner made an emergency landing in western Japan. ANA said the crew received a message warning of a battery problem and detected a burning smell in the cockpit and cabin, forcing the 787 on a domestic flight to land at Takamatsu Airport, where passengers were evacuated on emergency slides.

ANA, which operates 17 Dreamliners, and Japan Airlines, with seven of the airplanes, suspended all 787 flights until further notice. The moves grounded about half the world’s 787 fleet as Boeing sought to deal with a deepening crisis that has shaken the confidence of some investors and airline customers. Before the groundings, there were around 50 Boeing 787s in service.

The Dreamliner's most recent troubles began when an APU battery fire broke out aboard a Japan Airlines 787 as it sat empty at the gate at Boston Logan Airport last week, prompting an FAA safety probe of the jetliner. The 787 battery issues came just weeks after Boeing endured a series of other electrical problems that briefly grounded three 787s. The Dreamliner has also suffered an engine failure and fuel leaks in the 14 months it has been in service.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the FAA said it was “monitoring a preliminary report of an incident in Japan earlier today involving a Boeing 787.” Then last night it issued its order to ground the U.S. fleet. The agency has ordered a joint safety review with Boeing of the jetliner to determine what is causing the battery issues.