ANA grounds Boeing 787s for checks

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Tokyo - All Nippon Airways Company is grounding all 17 of its Boeing 787 planes for inspection after one of its Dreamliners made an emergency landing in western Japan on Wednesday, the Japanese air carrier told Reuters.

ANA said instruments on a domestic flight early on Wednesday indicated a battery error, but all passengers and crew evacuated safely by using the plane's inflatable slides, ANA said.

The incident comes on top of a slew of recent problems with Boeing's new Dreamliner aircraft. The sophisticated new plane, the world's first mainly carbon-composite airliner, suffered two fuel leaks, a battery fire, a wiring problem, brake computer glitch and cracked cockpit window last week.

ANA said it evacuated 129 passengers and eight crew members from the Dreamliner after measuring instruments in the flight's cockpit indicated there was a battery malfunction and the pilot smelled something strange. The company said it is still checking whether there was any smoke emitted into the cockpit.

Wednesday's flight 692 bound for Haneda Airport near Tokyo left Yamaguchi Airport in western Japan shortly after 8am JST (23h00 GMT on Tuesday) but made an emergency landing in Takamatsu at 8.45am after smoke appeared in the cockpit, an Osaka airport authority spokesperson said.

Boeing spokesperson Marc Birtel told Reuters: “We've seen the reports, we're aware of the events and are working with our customer.”

Japan is the biggest market so far for the Dreamliner, with ANA and Japan Airlines Company flying 24 of the 50 Dreamliners delivered to date.

Japan's transport minister had previously acknowledged that passenger confidence in Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner jet is at stake, as both Japan and the United States have opened broad and open-ended investigations into the plane after a series of incidents that have raised safety concerns.

Japanese authorities said on Monday they would investigate fuel leaks on a 787 operated by JAL, and the US National Transportation Safety Board said later its agents would analyse the lithium-ion battery and burned wire bundles from a fire aboard another JAL 787 at Boston's Logan Airport last week. - Reuters


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