787 Dreamliners Grounded in Japan

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Japan's two major carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have grounded their fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after an ANA 787 made an emergency landing and passenger evacuation in Takamatsu on Wednesday. According to The Associated Press, the crew reported a crew alert message indicating battery problems and noticed a burning smell. The ANA Dreamliner pilots declared an emergency and immediately landed in Takamatsu, which is in southwestern Japan on the island of Shikoku, about 420 miles southwest of Tokyo. Press photos showed the 787 stopped on a taxiway turnoff with all of the emergency slides deployed. Japanese authorities reported one minor injury during the evacuation. An early buyer of the 787, ANA operates 17 of the aircraft, while JAL has seven. The grounding comes less than a week after the FAA announced an unusual safety review of the 787 and its systems, following a battery fire on a JAL 787 in Boston on January 7th.

The fire occurred after passengers had deplaned in Boston and was noticed by a crew cleaning the aircraft. Although airport fire fighters were trained and equipped to fight lithium-ion battery fires, they reported difficulty in finding the fire and accessing the compartment, in the aircraft's rear electronics bay. The battery that ignited was used to start the 787's APU. A second main ship lithium-ion battery is located in the aircraft's forward electrical and electronics bay. The 787 has been troubled with numerous minor problems, many related to its complex electrical system. As of Wednesday morning, it was unclear how long the two fleets would be grounded.