The US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has halted deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet until concerns about its safety are resolved. A recent incident caused regulators to ground the planes.
In a decision announced late on Friday, Boeing said that although it had halted Dreamliner deliveries, it would continue to produce the planes.
“We will not deliver 787s until the FAA [US Federal Aviation Agency] approves a means of compliance with their recent Airworthiness Directive concerning batteries and the approved approach has been implemented,” a Boeing spokesman said in an email to the AFP news agency. “Production of 787s continues, the spokesman added.
The move followed a decision by the FAA and other aviation regulators to ground the Dreamliners over concerns about their safety. That decision was sparked by an incident involving a 787 operated by Japan’s All Nippon Airways earlier this week, in which pilots on a domestic flight opted to make an emergency landing after warning lights in the cockpit indicated a battery problem.
Since then, the FAA, the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing itself have joined Japanese aviation officials in an investigation into the incident. The Japanese-made lithium-ion batteries are lighter, pack more energy, and recharge more quickly than conventional batteries. However, they are also more flammable.
A picture that the Japan Transport Safety Board released of the battery involved in Wednesday’s incident showed scorch marks on its blue casing. Part of what appeared to be wiring around the eight cells of the battery showed significant damage.
A JTSB inspector told a news conference that the charred battery would be sent to Tokyo, where it would be further examined.
“This information will go to Boeing and the FAA. They will assess it before allowing the 787 to fly again in Japan, Hideyo Kosugi said. “We hope to produce a report as soon as possible … within a week. The United States analysis may take a bit longer than this.”
The JTSB also said it had found similarities between Wednesday’s incident and a battery fire on a Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines, which is now parked at Logan Airport in Boston.
The grounding of the 787s is the first issued by the FAA in more than three decades. Around 50 Dreamliners have been delivered so far, half of which were purchased by Japanese air carriers. Boeing has taken orders for 800 of the jets.