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Dreamliner passenger jets grounded until technical issues resolved

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Flights in Europe, Japan, Qatar, India and the United States were halted after issues were reported with Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets. The planes remain grounded until battery-related problems related with the aircraft are investigated.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - International disappointment with the Dreamliner has been far-reaching. Poland's state-controlled LOT Airlines said it would seek compensation from Boeing for grounding its two planes. Expecting delivery of three more Dreamliners by the end of March, Poland will now only take them if the technical issues have been resolved.

Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker of Qatar Airways had been one of the most outspoken critics of delays and technical problems with the 787. "We ensure all our aircraft meet the most stringent safety standards and this will not be compromised in any way," he said in a statement.
 
A mainly carbon-composite plane, the Dreamliner has been troubled by recent technical mishaps, raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries. A domestic flight in Japan made an emergency landing this week after warning lights indicated a battery problem.

"While it is entirely possible that the current battery issue is resolved in short order, it is also equally possible that the 787s current certification could be called into question," BB&T Capital Markets analyst Carter Leake wrote.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week temporarily grounded Boeing's newest commercial airliner, saying carriers would have to demonstrate the batteries were safe before the planes could once again take flight. When that will occur is not clear.

It marked the first time of a mass grounding of commercial aircraft since the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 had its airworthiness certificate suspended following a deadly crash in Chicago in 1979.

Fifty of the Dreamliners have been delivered to date, with 850 ordered. 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 flying the 787. The planes have a list price of $207 million.

The majority of the Dreamliner fleet is now effectively out of action. Engineers and regulators are making checks, primarily of the plane's batteries and complex electronics systems. Airlines are now scrambling to fill in the gaps with scheduling with mass grounding.

Eight Dreamliner flights between Tokyo and San Diego have been cancelled until January 25, affecting some 1,290 passengers, and would switch aircraft for another 70 flights scheduled to fly the 787. In addition, Air India said it would use other planes on scheduled Dreamliner flights.

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