January 16th, 2013
06:16 PM ET

FAA grounds U.S.-registered Dreamliners over fire risk

U.S. regulators have ordered airlines to ground all U.S.-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliners until a fire risk linked to batteries aboard the jetliners is fixed.

The move comes on the day that two Japanese airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, grounded their fleets of the 787 Dreamliner. That move came after an ANA 787 made an emergency landing in Japan after a battery alarm signal activated on the plane.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier flying Dreamliners. They have six.

"Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe and in compliance," the FAA said Wednesday evening.

The Dreamliner has been beset by a string of mechanical and other problems for months, including reports of an oil leak, a fuel leak, engine cracks and a damaged cockpit window. Also, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a January 7 battery fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.


Dreamliner battery problems worry experts most

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Filed under: Air travel • FAA • Travel
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    I love uneducated responses and reporting, yet most of you fly on 20 year old MD-80's constantly that are hanging out in the hangers every other night at DFW. We are talking about an amazing technological feet of an aircraft here, had a problem mid flight and landed safetly, so what? This happens all day, a brand new aircraft is not a lemon this isn't your sedan in your garage. This aircraft has more laws than the most advanced systems from Airbus to protect you! Boeing will remedy the situation, learn from their mistakes and continue to offer this amazing aircraft made to make your trip more comfortable and safe.

    January 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dreamer96

      Ryan

      A plane made of Carbon Fibers and Epoxy Resin...and has overheating Lithium batteries....Carbon burns, Epoxy resin becomes soft above 400 degrees Fahrenheit..A carbon fiber/epoxy resin fire gives off dangerous fumes, our US Navy has special fire fighting training just for our new drones made of carbon fiber and epoxy resin........

      This new Boeing 787 design can not use the Aluminum body as a back for the electrical ground....so having a very good electrical system is important.....Maybe they should use a Beacon power mini flywheel system as a battery system instead of Lithium batteries....There is a history of early lithium batteries exploding in laptops and other small electrical devices....and the USA used lithium 6 in our largest Hydrogen bomb....

      January 17, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      Uneducated? It's 'feat', not 'feet'.

      January 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TW

    In Houston terminal ... United is pulling its Dreamliner craft from the gate

    January 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. skip

    Why is Boeing using lithium batteries, why doesn't Boeing use the same batteries as NASA. NASA uses Silver/Zinc batteries in space missions. Silver?Zinc is inherently safe from explosions or from catching fire due to the absence of lithium.Its main attraction lies in how much more charge a similarly-sized battery can hold – its power density. When pitted against lithium-ion batteries, a silver-zinc battery has 40 percent higher energy density. In addition, silver-zinc also offers plenty of potential to safely increase energy density and cycle life safely. In fact, the projected energy density improvement is expected to eventually hit approximately two times that of lithium-polymer.
    Why try to save money when lives are at stake?

    January 16, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lbjack

      Skip, that's a great point. Best, most constructive post I've read. Why the hell did they not use silver-zinc? Cost? Let's say, worst case, $1 million per plane, with already a $150 million price tag. That would definitely not be a deal breaker and the safety and life-cycle would be selling points. Greed and stupidity, I guess.

      January 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • lbjack

      I spoke too soon. As of 2008, the silver-zinc battery had a cycle life of only 20-25 recharges. Boeing couldn't go with that.

      January 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sg

      Skip – "NASA uses Silver/Zinc batteries in space missions"
      Where do you get your information? I have launched almost a dozen spacecraft and not one of them had Silver/Zinc.
      Nickel Hydrogen, Lithium Ion, Lithium Sulphur Dioxide, etc.
      Perhaps you are thinking of "Primary Batteries" (cannot be recharged).
      Clearly the batteries on these aircraft need to be recharged, so Silver/Zinc is not an option.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    Lol @ Ryan i was thinking that same thing. Most planes currently being used are very old and thats more frightening to me.

    January 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dreamer96

      Why do you have so much trust in Boeing Engineers, or the Boeing Company???

      It was Boeing, the Airlines, and the original electrical wiring manufacturer that talked the FAA into letting them continue to fly all those older 747's that had bad electrical wring......The US Navy noticed the insulation was drying out, cracking and falling off the wires...they Red Flagged it, years ago, and reported it to the NTSB, pulled that wiring from all US Navy planes, or grounded them for good....

      After years of arguing with Boeing, a 747 with that wiring , Flight 800, exploded after takeoff from JFK Airport in July 17th 1996....Why do you think the Pentagon was so mad at Boeing....The Pentagon order that no high ranking US military officer could fly on any plane with that wiring, this order had been in effect for years.....and the Pentagon kept asking Boeing over, and over, to rewire those 747's and other planes for the sake of the general public's safety...

      January 17, 2013 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. dreamer96

    Our Modern wiring for electrical cables, and cable TV cables, Telephone lines, use an outside insulation covering made form corn oil, or soybean oil...not rubber..this is done to save money....Funny mice, rats, squirrels, and any rodents, and even rabbits that are not members of the rodent family will learn this insulation is food....and then feed off the cables..and short them out..

    You should call your local electric company, cable TV company, land line phone company and ask them how much they spend each year repairing damaged cables due to squirrels or other animals chewing up the lines.....

    Many countries have a real problem with rodents, even at their airports and aircraft hangers, and aircraft repair facilities....and our American Airlines use oversea maintenance repair shops.....

    Remember that recent video of a snake hanging on a plane wing..It was probably attracted to the smell of rodents on the plane....

    January 17, 2013 at 11:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. hermes96

    My old computer uses a heat sink on the CPU to keep it running cool...Where is the heat sink for these large lithium batteries??

    January 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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