Dreamliner: US joins Japan investigation

Jan 18 2013

US safety officials have joined an investigation into the planemaker Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which has been suspended from flying.

They joined Boeing representatives and Japanese investigators looking into an All Nippon Airways flight which made an emergency landing because of a fault.

All of Boeing's 50 flagship Dreamliners have been temporarily taken out of service amid safety concerns.

And on Friday, Qantas cut its order for new Dreamliners by one aircraft.

But the Australian airline is still ordering 14 of the planes, with the first aircraft to arrive in mid-2013, for its low-cost carrier Jetstar. Qantas said it had decided to cut its order before the planes were grounded and could add another 787 again at a later date if demand warranted.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Dreamliner would not fly again under authorities are "1,000% sure" it is safe.

A string of issues in recent weeks has raised questions about the 787, which is the first major aircraft grounding since 1979.

Dreamliners have suffered incidents including fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, brake problems and an electrical fire. However, it is the battery problems that have caused the most concern.

Battery inspection

This week, US and European aviation regulators said planes should be grounded while safety checks are carried out on their lithium ion batteries.

On Friday, US officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board joined the Japanese probe at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.

The Japan Transport Safety Board said the battery and the systems around it would be sent to Tokyo for more checks, adding there were similarities with an earlier battery fire on a 787 in Boston operated by Japan Airlines.

The pilot of the ANA plane made an emergency landing on Wednesday after he smelled burning and received a cockpit warning of battery problems. All passengers evacuated the plane on emergency slides.

The investigation is being led by the Japan Transport Safety Board.

Boeing is investing heavily in the 787 Dreamliner, and needs to sell 1,100 over the next decade to break even. It has stood by the integrity of the Dreamliner, which has been in service since October 2011.

Together with European rival Airbus, it dominates the global airliner market.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News 2013 BBC

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