Financial News

  • 15 January 2014, 22:30

Dreamliner Grounded As White Smoke Spotted

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been grounded after white smoke was spotted coming from the plane - the latest in a series of problems that have plagued the model.

Japan Airlines said cockpit warning lights on the plane indicated potential problems with the main battery and charger, and a battery cell appeared to have been leaking.

The fault, coming almost one year since the global 787 fleet was grounded by regulators after two batteries overheated, raised fresh concerns about the model's safety and reliability.

Boeing said it was "aware of the 787 issue that occurred on Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell".

It referred to the process of fumes and heat being channelled outside the aircraft.

In the wake of the news, Boeing shares fell 0.6% to $139.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

United Airlines spokeswoman Christen David said the company was looking into the matter. United is the only US carrier that uses the 787.

Japan Airlines said maintenance engineers who were in the cockpit saw white smoke outside the plane. When they went outside the aircraft the smoke had dispersed.

On returning to the cockpit, the engineers found warning lights indicating possible faults with the main battery and charger. When they checked the battery they found one of eight cells was leaking a liquid.

The plane, due to depart from Tokyo Narita airport for Bangkok, was taken out of service, and the 158 passengers due to board the plane were put on a separate 787, JAL said.

Aerospace experts said the incident was troubling, but were cautious about drawing broader conclusions.

Almost exactly a year ago, All Nippon Airways grounded its 787 fleet after two 787 batteries overheated on two different planes in less than a fortnight.

Global regulators grounded the worldwide fleet days later, with all Dreamliners left out of action for more than three months while Boeing redesigned the battery, charger and containment system to ensure battery fires would not put the aircraft at risk.

The cause of the battery problems has not been determined.

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