Japan Grounds All 787 Jets After Forced Landing

Posted January 16th, 2013 at 1:20 am (UTC-5)
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Japan's two largest airlines have grounded all their Boeing 787 planes after one of the trouble-plagued new jets made a forced landing when smoke appeared in the cabin.

Several passengers suffered minor injuries when the All Nippon Airways flight made an emergency landing in Takamatsu, on Shikoku island in western Japan, during a flight to Tokyo Wednesday.

Japan's largest air carrier, ANA, and Japan Airlines subsequently grounded all their 787 “Dreamliner” jets for safety checks. The two airlines operate 24 of the wide-bodied aircraft on international and domestic routes.

The U.S.-based Boeing Company has sold or has commitments to build more than 800 of the twin-jet, long-range planes for airlines around the world.

A series of recent problems with 787 flights has prompted U.S. air safety investigators to launch a top-priority safety review of the 787.

Previous incidents involved brake and battery problems and a fuel leak aboard three separate 787s.

In the latest instance, ANA said a cockpit message showed battery problems. Some of the 129 passengers on board reported a strange burning smell in the cabin.

ANA Senior Executive Vice President Osamu Shinobe bowed deeply as he apologized at a news conference in Tokyo following the emergency landing.

“We are extremely sorry for causing grief to the passengers, their families and those involved. We are sorry.”

ANA says its planes could be in the air as soon as Thursday once safety checks are complete.

The 787 is the first major passenger aircraft built mostly from composite materials rather than metal. Boeing says it consumes 20 percent less fuel than other planes of similar size.