Airlines must ground Dreamliners: FAA

Passengers leave an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 after it made an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, January 16, 2013.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered American airliners to stop operating Boeing 787s, following an incident where one of the Dreamliner passenger aircraft made an emergency landing in Japan.

“As a result of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations,” the FAA said in a statement on Wednesday.

Japanese airlines Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) suspended flights of all their Dreamliners on Wednesday following an emergency landing made by an ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner with more than 130 people on board.

The two Japanese air carriers operate 24 planes out of the 50 Dreamliners sold around the world so far. They have also made large orders for more of the Boeing jets.

“Before further flight, operators of US-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe,” the FAA statement added.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, the only US airline currently operating the 787, said it would “immediately comply” with the FAA’s directive and re-accommodate customers on alternative aircraft.

Airlines in Chile and India have also grounded their Dreamliners.

However, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said, “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 travelling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.”

Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been troubled by a series of bad news this week including fire on a flight, fuel leak, a brake computer fault and a cracked cockpit window, which could hit global confidence in the new aircraft.