The U.S. has grounded the six -8s operated by , the only U.S. carrier flying the type to date, as problems with the aircraft’s lithium ion batteries continue to dog the in-service fleet.
“As a result of an inflight787 battery incident [on Jan. 16] 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,” the agency says in a press release, issued Wednesday evening in Washington. “Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the [FAA] that the batteries are safe.”
Today’s incident involved an787 that declared an emergency and diverted due to “multiple messages in the cockpit concerning the battery and other systems that were reported,” says the U.S. , which has dispatched an investigator to Japan to analyze the aircraft. The ANA crew reported an odor in the cabin and cockpit.
The incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on a787 on the ground in Boston on Jan. 7, also under investigation by the NTSB. Both battery failures “resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke,” says the FAA.
“The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation,” the FAA says. “These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”
Both ANA and Japan Airlines have voluntarily grounded their fleets.
The FAA on Jan. 11 announced a “comprehensive review” of the 787’s “critical systems,” and says there may be “further action pending new data and information.”
“In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification,” the FAA says.
The FAA says it has alerted “the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.”
United Airlines says it “will immediately comply with the airworthiness directive and will work closely with the FAA and Boeing on the technical review as we work toward restoring 787 service. We will begin reaccommodating customers on alternate aircraft.”
Following the FAA announcement, Boeing issued its own statement. “Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible,” says 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,” McNerney says. “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.”