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All Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets in Japan grounded

Air Transportation DisastersAir Transportation IndustryFederal Aviation AdministrationTransportation DisastersW.J. Hennigan

All 24 of Japan's Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jets were grounded for safety checks after one of the planes operated by All Nippon Airways made an emergency landing in western Japan.

Details of the problem were still being checked, ANA spokesman Takuya Taniguchi said Wednesday after the flight to Tokyo from Ube landed at the Takamatsu airport, where NTV television reported passengers had used emergency slides to exit the jet. The airport was temporarily closed.

The plane landed after a cockpit message showed battery problems. It was the latest of a series of problems including a battery fire and a fuel leak on ANA Dreamliners parked at Logan International Airport in Boston last week. No one has been seriously injured in any of the incidents.

Japan's Transport Ministry said the airlines that operate Dreamliners had grounded the planes voluntarily. ANA operates 17 of the jets and Japan Airlines has seven. The Japanese planes represent almost half of the 50 Dreamliners being flown commercially worldwide.

After the Boston incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration launched an unusual "comprehensive safety review of Boeing 787 critical systems," including a sweeping evaluation of the way that Boeing designs, manufactures and assembles the aircraft.

Boeing said it would participate in the review with the FAA and believed the process would bolster the public's confidence in the reliability of the aircraft.

The move came despite an "unprecedented" certification process for the 787 in which FAA technical experts logged 200,000 hours of work over nearly two years and flew on numerous test flights, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. There were more than a dozen new special conditions developed during the certification because of the Dreamliner's innovative design.

Certification of the Dreamliner was completed Aug. 25, 2011, and the first plane was delivered to All Nippon Airways a month later. It was more than three years late because of design problems and supplier issues.

The Dreamliner, a twin-aisle aircraft that can seat 210 to 290 passengers, is the first large commercial jet with more than half its structure made of composite materials (carbon fibers meshed together with epoxy) rather than aluminum sheets. Another innovative application is the change from hydraulically actuated systems typically found on passenger jets to electrically powered systems involving lithium ion batteries.

Times staff writers W.J. Hennigan in Los Angeles and David Pierson in Shanghai contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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