The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded the fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners operating in the U.S. as it investigates problems with batteries that have plagued the aircraft recently.
United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes in service.
The move follows an in-flight battery incident Wednesday in Japan. Earlier this week, there were incidents involving 787s in the Japan Airlines fleet.
The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.
Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said his company is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. "The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities," he said in a statement. "We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist," adding, "We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity."
Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the FAA that the batteries are safe. The agency says it will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.
Last Friday, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of 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 has also 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.