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Regulator grounds Air India Dreamliners

17 january 2013, 18:34
0
©AFP
©AFP
India's aviation regulator said Thursday it had instructed Air India to ground its fleet of Boeing Dreamliners following similar orders from authorities in the United States and Japan, AFP reports.

"We have asked Air India to ground all six Dreamliners after getting an advisory from the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration) citing safety concerns," Arun Mishra, the director-general of civil aviation, told AFP.

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.

In the latest incident, an All Nippon Airways flight was forced into an emergency landing in southwestern Japan on Wednesday due to a battery problem.

Both ANA and rival Japan Airlines voluntarily grounded their Dreamliner fleets following the incident.

The FAA grounded all US-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft Wednesday to address a possible battery fire risk and issued a security advisory alerting international aviation authorities.

The Japanese government said Thursday all the country's Dreamliners must remain grounded until their batteries are confirmed to be safe.

K. Swaminathan, a spokesman for Air India, told AFP the carrier would await approval from Indian regulators before putting the Dreamliner back into service.

"We will not fly the plane until the regulatory authorities have completed their investigation and come back to us about the safety situation," he said.

Mishra said the Indian aviation regulator had no timeline as to when Air India would be allowed to fly the aircraft, long touted as a solution to the airline's loss-making operations.

"We will track the FAA enquiry into the Dreamliner. We can't say when we will allow it to fly again, it depends on when Boeing gives us satisfaction over safety concerns," he said.

The FAA has said it will work with Boeing and US carriers to develop a corrective action plan "to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible".

Air India purchased 27 Dreamliners as part of a 2005 multi-billion-dollar deal, with the first plane delivered to New Delhi last September. It now has six of the planes and the remaining 21 are expected to arrive by 2016.

Airline spokesman Swaminathan declined to comment on whether the carrier was considering any changes to its aircraft orders.

India's Jet Airways put in an order for ten planes in 2006, with the first delivery scheduled in 2015. Calls to Jet Airways were not answered.

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.

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