After a series of highly publicised problems including an ANA emergency landing on Wednesday 16 January, all 50 of the 787s across the world have been grounded. On Wednesday 16th January, 2013, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered the grounding of all US-registered 787s and recommended other jurisdictions do the same:
As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. 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 European Aviation Safety Agency have followed the FAA’s grounding order. India also followed the FAA directive. The FAA began a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Boeing 787 last week. No one yet knows if the problem is with the batteries themselves or the power source or the charging system or the 787′s electrical system.The airliner relies more on electrical power to run on-board systems than any other plane. The agency expects to have some preliminary data early next week.
The problem needs to be fixed before the public begin to doubt the aircraft’s safety. No one wants a repeat of the UK Comet scenario where a technically advanced plane which broke speed records, proved to be unsafe. Three Comets imploded mid flight in 1953 and 1954. All aboard perished. By the time a safer variant was launched, the public were spooked. Ironically, the grounding of the Comet, gave Boeing the opening it needed to get the 707 into extensive service.
Production of the 787 continues but deliveries have been suspended by Boeing. The last groundings of an aircraft by the FAA was of the DC-10 in 1979 for a month, after crash in Chicago.
Air India -27 ordered. Six grounded on Thursday
Air India grounded their planes after instructions from India’s Director General of Civil Aviation. The airline noted that they have had none of the battery problems that ANA, JAL and United have had. At a Press Conference on Friday, India’s Civil Aviation Minister said Friday that Air India will seek “some kind of compensation” The Minister said Boeing is liable. He also indicated that the airline is still seeking delivery of their remaning order. Air India said it would use other planes on its scheduled 787 flights.
ANA: 50 ordered. 17 grounded on Wednesday
All Nippon Airways grounded their fleet on Wednesday after instruments on flight 692 from Yamaguchi to Tokyo indicated a battery error. ANA said a smell was detected in the cockpit and the cabin, and pilots received emergency warning of smoke in the forward electronic compartment. After the incident last week on Boston where a JAL 787 had a fire on board, the airline took no chances. The plane made an emergency landing and all 129 passengers and eight crew were evacuated via the plane’s inflatable slides
Ethiopian Airlines: 10 ordered. Four grounded Thursday
Ethiopian Airlines said they “ have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators. However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation,” They were the last of the 787 operators to ground their planes.
JAL: 45 ordered. Seven grounded Wednesday
Japan Airlines grounded their fleet until at least until 25 January. The carrier will be deploying 767s and 777s on 787 flights and has also cancelled services on its Tokyo -San Diego route.
LAN Airlines -three grounded Wednesday
LAN followed the FAA directive and its planes were grounded after United’s.
LOT Polish Airlines: Eight ordered. Two grounded Wednesday.
The timing of the announcement was unfortunate and bizarre for LOT. A 787 was en route on its maiden from Warsaw Chicago flight. It never made the return trip and is now stranded in the USA. LOT Airlines have said they will seek compensation from Boeing for the grounding.
Qatar Airways: 30 ordered. Five grounded Thursday
I would love to be a fly on the wall of the office of Akbar Al Baker the Qatar Airway’s CEO. He has already been very unhappy about the delays and technical problems associated with the 787. His official statement this week said: “In light of recent events surrounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner worldwide, we are actively working with Boeing and the regulators to restore full customer confidence in the 787. Qatar Airways will resume 787 operations when we are clear that the aircraft meets the full requirements of the Airworthiness Directive and our standards which assure the safety of our passengers and crew at all times.”
The grounding puts in doubt the airline’s planned February 1 launch of a Doha to Perth 787 service.
United Airlines: 50 Ordered. Six grounded Wednesday
Twelve hours after the Japanese fleets were grounded, the US regulators announcement came and United was the third airline keeping their planes earth bound.