Boeing’s wings are clipped as US grounds new planes

 

Fifty of the world’s most advanced and expensive flying machines are standing idle after America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order grounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

It issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive “to prevent damage to critical systems and structures”.

The move follows two incidents in which faulty lithium-ion batteries caused a small fire and smoke, both on 787s operated by Japanese carriers. One incident took place on the ground, while the other was in flight and led to an emergency landing and evacuation.

While the FAA’s instruction is directly addressed only to United – the sole US operator of the Dreamliner – other aviation authorities and individual airlines followed normal procedure and also complied.

Boeing’s chairman, Jim McNerney, said: “We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers.”

As engineers and safety officials try to remedy the perceived fire risk, the blame game has begun. Attention is focusing on Boeing’s decision to outsource much of the work on the new jet. The Seattle Times columnist, Jon Talton, wrote: “I never understood the radical outsourcing of the 787 Dreamliner, an experiment that proved to be costly, inefficient and now dangerous.”

The grounding has had an immediate effect on the operations of the eight airlines that have so far put the 787 into service. Qatar Airways, the only airline serving the UK with a Dreamliner, appears to have dropped its daily 787 link between Heathrow and Doha, with no alternative aircraft replacing it. The airline’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Our staff are assisting all affected passengers to be accommodated on other flights.”

Japan Airlines has cancelled all flights between Tokyo and San Diego for the next week, and replaced the 787 on other routes with Boeing 777s.Poland’s LOT airline had just completed its first transatlantic service, from Warsaw to Chicago, when the order came through. It was forced to cancel the return trip.

Three UK airlines – British Airways, Thomson and Virgin Atlantic – have ordered the Dreamliner, but none have been delivered. Thomson is due to receive its first 787 next month, and to deploy it on transatlantic service in May from East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester.

Some passengers booked to fly on the jet have expressed concern over the grounding. Arthur Cairns of Glasgow, who has a holiday booked in Florida flying on the first Dreamliner, said: “I am not happy with present situation regarding safety. We are due to pay our balance in fortnight but don’t wish to travel on this plane.”

A spokesman for Thomson said that the airline expected the 787 to be delivered and to enter service as planned, with no special dispensation for passengers already booked: “Normal booking conditions apply.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee