independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Boeing halts Dreamliner deliveries

Tails and wings stand out in a line of 787 jets parked nose-to-tail at Paine Field in Everett, Washington (AP/Elaine Thompson)

Boeing is halting deliveries of new 787s to customers until its electrical system is fixed.

The US aircraft manufacturer said, however, production of its most advanced jet known as the Dreamliner was not stopping. The plane is assembled in Washington state and South Carolina.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded the 787s until Boeing can prove the batteries are safe. A statement from Boeing said it would stop deliveries until the FAA approved a solution and it would also wait until the problem was fixed.

Aviation safety experts said it was likely that fires on two Dreamliners were caused by overcharging lithium ion batteries, pointing to developments in the investigation of the Boeing incidents as well as a battery fire in a business jet more than a year ago.

An investigator in Japan, where a 787 made an emergency landing earlier this week, said the charred insides of the plane's lithium ion battery showed the battery received voltage exceeding its design limits.

The similarity of the burned battery from the All Nippon Airways flight to the one in a Japan Airlines 787 that caught fire on January 7 while the jet was parked at Boston's Logan International Airport suggested a common cause, Japan transport ministry investigator Hideyo Kosugi said. "If we compare data from the latest case here and that in the US, we can pretty much figure out what happened," Mr Kosugi said.

In the case of the 787 in Boston, the battery in the plane's auxiliary power unit had recently received a large demand on its power and was in the process of charging when the fire ignited, a source familiar with the investigation of the 787 fire in Boston said.

The plane had landed a short time earlier and was empty, although a cleaning crew was working in the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order on Wednesday temporarily grounding the six 787s belonging to United Airlines, the lone US carrier operating Boeing's newest and most technologically-advanced airliner. The Japanese carriers already had grounded their 787s, and airlines and civil aviation authorities in other countries followed suit, shutting down all 50 Dreamliners that Boeing has delivered so far.

The aircraft maker has booked orders for more than 800 of the planes from airlines around the world attracted by its increased fuel efficiency.

Press Association

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