Boeing Dreamliner incidents raise safety concerns
By Alwyn Scott and James Topham
NEW YORK/TOKYO (Reuters) - Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner jet suffered a third mishap in as many days on Wednesday, heightening safety concerns after a string of setbacks for the new aircraft.
Japan's All Nippon Airways said it was forced to cancel a 787 Dreamliner flight scheduled to from fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo due to brake problems.
That followed a fuel leak on Tuesday that forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to cancel take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport, a day after an electrical fire on another 787 after a JAL flight to Boston from Tokyo.
Asian customers rallied behind the U.S. planemaker, however, saying such teething troubles were not uncommon on new planes and confirming they had no plans to scale back or cancel orders for the aircraft, which has a list price of $207 million.
Japan is by far the biggest customer for the Dreamliner to date, with JAL and All Nippon Airways (ANA) operating a total of 24 of the 49 new planes delivered to end-December. The aircraft entered commercial service in November 2011, more than three years behind schedule after a series of production delays. Boeing has sold 848 of the planes.
JAL spokesman Kazunori Kidosaki said the carrier, which operates seven Dreamliners, had no plans to change orders it has placed for another 38 aircraft. ANA, which has 17 Dreamliners flying its colors, will also stick with its orders for another 49, spokesman Etsuya Uchiyama said.
State-owned Air India, which on Monday took delivery of the sixth of the 27 Dreamliners it has ordered, said precautionary measures were already in place and its planes were flying smoothly. "It's a new plane, and some minor glitches do happen. It's not a cause of concern," said spokesman G.Prasada Rao.
There was no immediate suggestion that the 787 Dreamliner, the world's first passenger jet built mainly from carbon-plastic lightweight materials to save fuel, was likely to be grounded as investigators looked into the fire incident. Continued...