If you're anxious to finally fly aboard one of Boeing's new Dreamliner passenger jets, you'll have to wait a little bit longer to get your fix, as most Boeing 787 aircraft around the world were grounded yesterday amid concerns of battery malfunctions that could cause electrical fires.
"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 FAA said yesterday in an official statement, after ordering that all Dreamliners temporarily cease operations pending battery inspections.
According to the Wall Street Journal
, the last time the FAA took such dramatic, wide-reaching action to ground a jetliner model was in 1979 following the crash of a DC-10 that lost an engine.
The FAA's action — which was echoed in Europe, Japan
— followed an incident in Japan yesterday, when warning lights indicative of battery problems forced the emergency landing of a domestic All Nippon Airways flight. That was just the latest, however, in a string of recent safety mishaps for the Dreamliner, a lightweight, mostly carbon-composite aircraft that is said to consume 20 percent less fuel than the similarly-sized 767.
In the United States, Dreamliners could be flying again within a few days. Elsewhere, however, flights could be grounded for longer.
Boeing, which so far has sold approximately 850 Dreamliners — 50 of which have been delivered — issued a statement standing by the safety of its 787 aircraft and promising expedient solutions to the problems that have plagued it.
"Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible," said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. "The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist. 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 traveling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service."