Boeing 787 Dreamliners were grounded in several countries on Thursday after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was investigating battery problems that raised safety concerns.
Airlines in the United States, Japan, India, Europe and Chile have grounded their Dreamliners following the US request to temporarily halt operations. It was the first time in 34 years that the FAA had issued such a directive.
Safety concerns about Boeing's newest model have mounted since an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight made an unscheduled landing in Japan after a battery problem appeared on cockpit screens and the pilot reported an unusual smell.
Boeing Co has so far delivered 50 Dreamliners, half of them to airlines in Japan, where the government on Thursday ordered airlines to ground the planes.
The FAA said it would work with Boeing and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible. It said the battery problem carries a potential fire risk.
Eight companies fly the Dreamliner: Japan Airlines, ANA, Air India, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Chile's LAN Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.
Air India grounded its six Boeing 787 Dreamliners on Thursday and officials said a decision to reverse the ban would be taken only after the FAA approves the plane's safety.
"Now how serious this problem is, how long it will take, we will know only in a couple of days," said Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.
Air India spokesman G Prasada Rao said the airline had ordered 27 Dreamliners in 2006 and planned to take delivery of all aircraft by 2016. He said the carrier had made alternative arrangements to accommodate affected passengers.
Japan's government ordered airlines not to fly the Dreamliners until their safety had been assured.
The European Union, where LOT Polish Airlines operates two of the aircraft, said it had agreed with the FAA directive.
"LOT Polish Airlines currently has a fleet of 2 Boeing 787s, one of which is presently grounded in the US," said a spokesman for European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.
Polish Airlines LOT confirmed it had grounded its two Dreamliners.
The Polish carrier became the first European airline to operate the Boeing 787s. Its first Dreamliner took off earlier Thursday for the long-haul flight to Chicago, home to a large Polish-American community, where aviation authorities grounded it on arrival.
The airline said on its Facebook page that it remained certain the aircraft is safe and added that a Boeing 767 would fly the trans-Atlantic route until technical checks are completed.
Boeing has so far received some 800 orders for the 200-million-dollar 787 Dreamliner. In Germany, Air Berlin has ordered 15 of the commercial planes and Tui Travel 13.
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