News / Asia

International Carriers Ground Boeing Dreamliner Fleets

A Japanese investigator carries a battery which was taken from the All Nippon Airways' (ANA) 787 Dreamliner plane, which made an emergency landing on Wednesday, at Takamatsu airport in Takamatsu, in this photo taken by Kyodo, January 17, 2013.
A Japanese investigator carries a battery which was taken from the All Nippon Airways' (ANA) 787 Dreamliner plane, which made an emergency landing on Wednesday, at Takamatsu airport in Takamatsu, in this photo taken by Kyodo, January 17, 2013.
Aviation regulators in Asia and other parts of the world are grounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They are concerned about the risk of a fire occurring in flight because of issues with the new jet's batteries.

After the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ordered an indefinite halt to Dreamliner flights, regulators in Japan, India and Chile quickly issued similar directives.

787 Dreamliner, Parts Suppliers (CLICK TO ENLARGE)787 Dreamliner, Parts Suppliers (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
787 Dreamliner, Parts Suppliers (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
787 Dreamliner, Parts Suppliers (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Japan's Vice Transport Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama says the safety of airline passengers is paramount. He explains that the precise nature of the problem with the jet's batteries is not known because the aircraft has a complex electrical system and it will take a thorough investigation to provide answers.

Japanese authorities say their initial inspection leads them to believe the batteries are overheating.

Airlines and regulators began halting flights of the 787 following a Wednesday morning incident in Japan.

​A domestic All Nippon Airways flight bound for Tokyo made an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport after smoke was seen inside the aircraft. The pilot also reported smelling an odor, and instrumentation indicated a battery problem.

About half of the 50 Dreamliners in use today are operated by ANA and Japan Airlines.

U.S.-based United Airlines, Air India and Chile's LAN Airlines also have taken the Boeing twin-engine wide-bodied jets out of service since Wednesday.

Boeing's Dreamliner 787 Problems

  • Jan. 16: ANA flight makes emergency landing after a battery problem
  • Jan. 13: JAL 787 suffers fuel spill
  • Jan. 11: ANA 787 grounded after a windshield crack is discovered; another ANA 787 delayed for oil leak
  • Jan. 9: ANA cancels 787 flight because of brake issue
  • Jan. 8: JAL 787 grounded in Boston after a fuel spill
  • Jan. 7: Fire breaks out on an empty JAL 787

The emergency landing in Japan was the latest in a string of incidents involving lithium ion batteries in the plane that boasts a revolutionary design. It first went into commercial service in November 2011. Other concerns about the aircraft's safety have been expressed following reports of leaking fuel, a cracked windshield and brake problems.

Eight carriers have been operating Dreamliners, which are built mainly from lightweight carbon fiber. Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines are the other carriers with Dreamliners in their current fleets (in addition to ANA, JAL, United and LAN). Boeing has received orders for 800 more of the fuel-efficient jets.

One of the future recipients, Korean Airlines, is shrugging off concerns about the Dreamliner. The airline issued a news release Thursday saying it is not unusual for such problems to be found with newly operational aircraft. KAL says the 10 planes it is to begin receiving from the end of 2016 will be an upgraded model (the 787-9), and it expects their efficiency and safety will be "better than any other aircraft."

The aircraft manufacturer also issued a statement saying Boeing is “confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity.”

  • ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner made an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in Japan, January 16, 2013. Smoke appeared in the plane's cockpit, but all 137 passengers and crew members were evacuated safely.
  • ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner after making an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan January 16, 2013.
  • A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet surrounded by emergency vehicles at Logan International Airport in Boston, January 7, 2013. A small electrical fire filled the cabin of the JAL aircraft with smoke.
  • A Boeing 787 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, October 1, 2012, during an official welcome ceremony after it landed on the first day of service for the aircraft on ANA's Seattle-Tokyo route.
  • The first scheduled Boeing 787 airplane to depart from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, takes off October 2, 2012 in Seattle.
  • A Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off from from Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas, April 11, 2012.
  • Passengers of a Boeing 787 are welcomed by lion dance to celebrate the airplane's inaugural commercial flight from Japan, at Hong Kong International Airport, October 26, 2011.
  • The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, carrying the first major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Everett, Washington, after the plane's arrival from Italy, April 24, 2007.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs