U.S. regulators grounded all Boeing787 Dreamliner jetliners Wednesday after a series of recent incidents raised concerns about the aircrafts’ safety.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an “emergency airworthiness directive” that required all Dreamliners to “temporarily cease operations.” Regulators cited an an issue with a lithium ion battery that forced one of the planes to make an emergency landing in Japan on Wednesday.
“Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe,” the agency said in a statement.
The FAA said it will be working with Boeing Co. and airlines to “develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.”
The Dreamliner, pitched by Boeing as an ultra-modern and fuel-efficient aircraft, has suffered a litany of glitches in recent days.
Among them: A smoldering fire linked to a battery failure was discovered in the underbelly of a Dreamliner in Boston on Jan. 7. Japan Airlines Co. on Sunday said tests on the 787 showed fuel leaks. Another plane had a crack in the cockpit windscreen.
“The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation,” the FAA said in its statement.
Last week, the FAA launched a review of the 787’s design and assembly. United Airlines is the only U.S. airline currently operating the Dreamliner, with six of the planes in its fleet.
The FAA said it will also alert the international aviation community to its decision to ground the planes so global authorities “can take parallel action.”
Rick Seaney, founder of the travel website Farecompare, said the latest development on the Dreamliner could prompt airlines to rethink their orders of the much-heralded plane.
As for passengers, he said few regular passengers buy airline tickets with the specific intent of flying on a Dreamliner. But for those who do, he said the FAA ruling “might dampen” the demand to fly on it.
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