Two Japanese airlines have grounded their entire Dreamliner fleets, after the emergency landing of a Boeing 787 this morning at Takamatsu Airport in southern Japan. A total of 24 planes belonging to All Nippon Airlines (ANA) and Japan Air (JAL) have been withdrawn from service after the pilot of ANA flight NH 692 saw a cockpit light come on warning of smoke in one of the plane’s electrical compartments. This is the second such incident to happen recently. Last week, a fire broke out in the underbelly of a Japan Airlines plane at Boston airport.
Both JAL and ANA have early models of the Dreamliner. ANA took possession of the first ever 787 to roll off Boeing‘s production line, and some aviation experts are claiming that teething issues are par for the course for new aircraft. “There were initial issues with the Airbus A380 as well,” said Chris de Lavigne of Frost and Sullivan. “Look at where it is today; it is flying successfully and everyone seems to be happy with it.”
The FAA has already begun a joint review of the Dreamliner, which it certified back in 2011, along with Boeing. With reports of fuel leaks, brake issues, and battery faults (Boeing used lithium ion battery packs on the 787, a previous source of concern for the FAA due to its ability to catch fire), does the aircraft manufacturer have a problem? According to a senior analyst at the Teal Group, they do. “You’re nearing the tipping point where they need to regard this as a serious crisis,” said Richard Aboulafia. “This is going to change people’s perception of the aircraft if they don’t act quickly.”