x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Airlines watch as Japan grounds Dreamliners

Boeing's troubled next-generation model has suffered a series of glitches that have prompted investigations by aviation regulators in Japan and the United States.

NEW DELHI // India's aviation regulator will conduct a safety review of the Boeing Dreamliner aircraft purchased by Air India after Japan's two biggest airlines decided to ground their fleets.

"We will review the situation in consultation with Boeing and Air India," Arun Mishra, the director-general of civil aviation, said.

Boeing's troubled next-generation model has suffered a series of glitches that have prompted investigations by aviation regulators in Japan and the United States, although Boeing insists the plane is safe.

Australian airline Qantas said there were no changes to its order of 15 Dreamliner aircraft for its low-cost carrier Jetstar after Japan's two biggest airlines grounded the Boeing models.

"There are no changes to our order. It's still going ahead," a Qantas spokeswoman said." Qantas reduced its order of 50 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets to 15 in August 2012 to cut costs after announcing its first annual loss since privatisation in 1995 because of high fuel costs and industrial action. The delivery of the first of the 15 787s to Jetstar will enable the transfer of Airbus A330 aircraft from Jetstar to Qantas' domestic service and the eventual retirement of Qantas' Boeing 767 fleet.

In the latest incident, an All Nippon Airways flight was forced into an emergency landing in southwestern Japan with the airline saying cockpit instruments had shown there was smoke in an electrical compartment.

Both ANA and its rival Japan Airlines (JAL) - which are among Boeing's biggest customers for the Dreamliner - said they would ground their entire 787 fleets pending safety checks.

However, Mr Mishra said that "there were no plans to ground the Dreamliner right now" in India.

"I am in touch with Boeing and they are going to give me an update on the electrical problems they suffered in Japan," he added.

Air India purchased 27 Dreamliners as part of a 2005 multi-billion-dollar project, with the first plane delivered to New Delhi last September. Six planes have so far been delivered and the remaining 21 are expected to arrive by 2016.

The aircraft is seen as becoming the mainstay of loss-making Air India's global operations and airline officials hope it will attract new customers.

Considered a milestone in the aviation industry with its use of lightweight composite materials and electronics instead of aluminium and hydraulics, some 50 of the US aerospace giant's 787s are in service worldwide.

Boeing, which outsourced much of the production to Japanese and other contractors, says the plane's impressive fuel efficiency represents a revolution in aircraft design.