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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

AI grounds Dreamliner over safety concerns

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 18, 2013
First Published: 00:34 IST(18/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:42 IST(18/1/2013)

Air India (AI) has grounded its six Boeing-787 Dreamliner planes after a directive by US aviation regulator—the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — to stop operations of all such planes.

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The grounding of the Dreamliner is a setback for AI as the aircraft is central to its turnaround plans. Regulators across the world followed the lead of the FAA in ordering an indefinite halt to all Dreamliner operations.

After a battery fire incident in Japan on a Dreamliner on Wednesday, the FAA that sets the benchmark for aviation standards issued an emergency airworthiness directive to address the problem requiring all “operators to temporarily cease operations. Before further flight, operators of US-registered Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the FAA that the batteries are safe.”

“The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes.  These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment,” the FAA said.

Following the FAA statement, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) directed AI to ground its Dreamliners.

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“We will track the FAA probe 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,” a DGCA official said.

“I’m sure this (grounding) will entitle AI to some reimbursement,” aviation minister Ajit Singh said, adding the airline would have to “wait until we get some clarity on the issue”.

FAA said it will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible. It gave no details on when that might happen. “When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive, it alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries,” the FAA said.

“We will not fly the Dreamliner until the FAA and our own DGCA give clearance," civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said.

Boeing said in a statement it was confident the 787 was safe and it stood by the plane's integrity. “Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and various regulatory and probe bodies. We will make available the resources of The Boeing Company to assist,” chief executive Jim McNerney said.

“All flights scheduled to be operated with the B-787 aircraft will be operated with other aircraft and passengers booked on these flights will be accommodated on other flights,” AI said.


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