The FAA took action Wednesday to ground the U.S.-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, which the agency certified just 17 months ago, stating that a "corrective action plan" is needed to address "a potential battery fire risk" before flights are allowed to resume. Europe, Japan and India joined the flight ban late in the day. An emergency airworthiness directive is expected. The only carrier affected is United Airlines, currently the sole U.S. operator of the Dreamliner, and follows a fire event aboard an All Nippon Airways jet earlier Wednesday in Japan. That event led to an emergency landing. Inspection of the aircraft later found burn marks and damage related to a leak from the aircraft's main lithium-ion battery, which is mounted below and behind the cockpit. Boeing will now work together with the FAA to develop the plan to return the aircraft to the air -- timeframe unknown.
The plan could produce anything from simple improvements that see the aircraft returned to flight, soon, to extensive changes that could delay deliveries. There are approximately 50 787s currently in service with more than 750 more of the airliners on order. ANA grounded its fleet of 17 Dreamliners and Japan Airlines did the same with its seven following concerns that developed from Wednesday's and earlier events. The aircraft has been involved in several incidents that so far appear to trace back to the jet's electrical systems including its circuitry and its use of lithium-ion batteries. The chief engineer for the 787 program, Mike Sinnett, stated last week that "failures of the battery won't put the airplane at risk," CBS News reported. Sinnett said the plane's batteries, which are the suspected in at least two events, have operated through a combined 1.3 million hours without an internal fault.