US federal agency asks its airlines to ground all Boeing Dreamliners

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FAA said airlines would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries involved were safe. (Reuters) FAA said airlines would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries involved were safe. (Reuters)
SummaryAirlines would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries involved were safe.

US federal agency has asked its airlines to ground the Boeing 787, popularly known as Dreamliner, due to safety hazard.

Such a directive to "temporarily cease operations" comes after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) conducted an investigation of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident in Japan yesterday, which posed a question on a potential battery fire risk in the 787.

"Before further flight, operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe," the FAA said in a statement yesterday.

The United Airlines, which is currently the only American airlines operating the 787, with six airplanes in service, announced to immediately suspend the services of its Dreamliners.

Early this month United Airlines has introduced daily nonstop 787 Dreamliner service between Los Angeles and Tokyo.

There was no immediate reaction from Air India, which is among the few international airlines in Asia to boast of the Dreamliners.

"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," the federal body said.

FAA said the in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013.

The airworthiness directive (AD) is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery.

"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," it said.

Last 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, it said.

Meanwhile, the Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney, has exuded confidence that the 787 is safe and it will 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

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