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Boeing Stands By 787 Despite FAA Grounding

All Nippon Airways 787s
AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

The Federal Aviation Administration is grounding all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the US. That’s after a 787 in Japan was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday because of a battery problem.

In a statement, the FAA said it will issue an “emergency airworthiness directive” because of a potential risk of battery fires in the 787. It ordered all airlines to temporarily stop flying the planes.

Before 787s can fly again, airlines must demonstrate the lithium ion batteries in question are safe, according to the statement.

Boeing Co. issued a statementsaying the company is “committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible.”

“We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity,” Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said in the statement. “We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.”

McNerney added the company “deeply regrets” the impact of recent events on passengers.

The FAA directive follows an incident in Japan Wednesday when an All Nippon Airways 787 was forced to make an emergency landing because of a battery failure. Earlier this month, a fire broke out in a 787 that had just landed in Boston.

The FAA statement said the battery failures resulted in heat damage and smoke. And it said if those conditions are not corrected, they could result in the potential for fire in the plane’s electrical compartment.

Chicago-based United Airlines is the only US carrier that operates 787s, with six in service.

United issued a statement saying it will immediately comply with the FAA directive and will accommodate passengers on alternate aircraft.

A LOT Polish Airlines 787 arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Wednesday. It was LOT's first long-haul transatlantic 787 flight. LOT planned a ribbon-cutting ceremony at O'Hare, but then abruptly canceled it.

In Japan, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded their 787 fleets after Wednesday’s incident. Seven international airlines fly 787s. The FAA action may prompt similar responses from aviation authorities in those countries as well.

The FAA says it will work with Boeing and the airlines to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.

Last week, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the critical systems of the 787. The FAA says the battery system will now be a part of that review.

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