Published January 18, 2013
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday he couldn't predict when the troubled Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" would fly again, but he vowed that authorities first would make "1,000 percent sure" it was safe.
LaHood’s announcement comes after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration temporarily grounded the 787 after an incident involving battery failures caused an emergency landing in Japan.
All Nippon Airways said a cockpit message showed battery problems and a burning smell was detected in the cockpit and the cabin, forcing the 787 on a domestic flight to land at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.
LaHood said safety authorities are investigating the jet's lithium-ion batteries, Reuters reported.
"The reason that we grounded it is because we did further consultation with Boeing and there was another incident," LaHood said. "So those planes aren’t flying now until we really have a chance to examine the batteries… That seems to be where the problem is."
The 787 is Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced jet, and the company is counting heavily on its success. Since its launch, which came after delays of more than three years, the plane has been plagued by a series of problems including a battery fire and fuel leaks.
Japan's ANA and Japan Airlines are major customers for the jet and among the first to fly it.
Japan's transport ministry said the airlines voluntarily grounded the jets.
A fire ignited Jan. 7 in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers as the plane sat on the tarmac at Boston's Logan International Airport.
"Boeing is aware of the diversion of a 787 operated by ANA to Takamatsu in western Japan. We will be working with our customer and the appropriate regulatory agencies," Marc Birtel, Boeing spokesman said.
The FAA said the incidents will be included in the comprehensive review that began last week of the 787 critical systems, including design, manufacture and assembly.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.