Published on 17 Jan 2013 Sections ,

Dreamliner fleets grounded across the world

Airlines based in the Middle East and Poland become the latest to ground Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes amid safety concerns.

Dreamliner fleets grounded across the world (R)

Qatar Airways grounded its entire fleet of 787s following instructions from the US Federal Aviation Administration and Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority. Poland’s national airline Lot says it will seek compensation from American-owned Boeing, after most of its Dreamliner planes also had to be grounded.

Airlines scrambled on Thursday to rearrange flights while battery-related problems with the Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets are investigated.

The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite plane has been plagued by recent mishaps – including an emergency landing of a Japanese domestic flight on Wednesday after warning lights indicated a battery problem – raising concerns over its use of new technology, such as lithium-ion batteries.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded Boeing’s newest commercial airliner, saying carriers would have to demonstrate the batteries were safe before the planes could resume flying. It gave no details on when that might happen.

Other regulators across the world followed suit on Thursday.

Boeing has sold around 850 of the new planes, with 50 delivered to date. Around half of those have been in operation in Japan, but airlines in India, South America, Poland, Qatar and Ethiopia, as well as United Airlines in the United States, are also flying the aircraft, which has a list price of $207m.

Read more: Lift-off for ‘groundbreaking’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Flight cancellations

With most of that Dreamliner fleet now effectively out of action as engineers and regulators make urgent checks – primarily to the plane’s batteries and complex electronics – airlines are wrestling with gaps in their scheduling.

Japan Airlines Co said on Thursday the 787 grounding would lead to three flight cancellations, affecting more than 500 passengers. A spokesman for Air India said no flights had been cancelled as the airline was using other planes.

Regulators in Japan and India said it was unclear when the Dreamliner could be back in action. A spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency said the region would follow the FAA’s grounding order.

Dreamliner: timeline of incidents

4 December 2012
A United Airlines 787 with 184 people aboard makes an emergency landing in New Orleans after reported electrical problems.

5 December
US regulators say there is a manufacturing fault in 787 fuel lines and advises operators to make extra inspections to guard against engine failures.

13 December
Qatar Airways grounds one of its three 787s after finding the same electrical problem that affected the 4 December United flight.

17 December
United confirms finding an electrical problem in a second plane in its 787 fleet.

7 December

Electrical fire breaks out on a Japan Airlines 787 after a battery explodes, letting smoke into the cabin shortly after passengers from Tokyo disembark at Boston's Logan International Airport.

8 January 2013
A fuel leak forces another Japan Airlines 787 to return to its gate only minutes before it is due to take off for Tokyo from Boston. Forty gallons of fuel are reported to have spewed across the Tarmac.

9 January

All Nippon Airways cancels a domestic 787 flight from Yamaguchi prefecture to Tokyo following a glitch in the computer systems that control the jet's brakes.

11 January
All Nippon Airways reports new problems with Dreamliner planes in its domestic fleet. In one instance, a small amount of oil is discovered leaking from a jet. In another case, a flight is cancelled after detection of a crack in the cockpit windshield.

16 January

All Nippon grounds its fleet of 17 Dreamliners when its flight NH 692 from Yamaguchi Ube is forced to land shortly after take-off. Japan Airlines follows suit, saying it would ground its fleet of seven 787s until further notice.