JAL's grounded Boeing Dreamliner leaks fuel in tests

Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:05pm EST
 
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By James Topham and Alwyn Scott

TOKYO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Japan Airlines Co (JAL) said on Sunday that a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner jet undergoing checks in Tokyo following a fuel leak at Boston airport last week had leaked fuel during tests earlier in the day.

An open valve on the aircraft caused fuel to leak from a nozzle on the left wing used to remove fuel, a company spokeswoman said. The jet is out of service after spilling about 40 gallons (roughly 150 liters) of fuel onto the airport taxiway in Boston due to a separate valve-related problem.

In Boston, a different valve on the plane opened, causing fuel to flow from the center tank to the left main tank. When that tank filled up, it overflowed into a surge tank and out through a vent. The spill happened as the plane was taxiing for takeoff on a flight to Tokyo on January 8. It made the flight about four hours later.

The causes of both incidents are unknown, the JAL spokeswoman added. There is no timetable for the plane to return to service.

"We are aware of the event and are working with our customer," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said of the leak in Tokyo.

On Friday, the U.S. government ordered a wide-ranging review of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, citing concern over a battery that caught fire on January 7, also on a JAL plane in Boston, and other problems. The government and Boeing insisted the passenger jet remained safe to fly.

The 787 represents the boldest bet Boeing has made on a new plane in more than a decade, and because the aircraft required billions to develop, much of the company's financial performance is riding on its success. Boeing is trying to double production to 10 jets a month this year to cash in on nearly 800 orders.

The eight airlines that operate the 50 jets delivered so far have expressed support for it, saying the mishaps are teething problems common with most new airplanes, and the 787's fuel savings make it an important addition to their fleets. JAL and local rival All Nippon Airways Co fly 24 Dreamliners.   Continued...

 
Japan Airlines' (JAL) Boeing 787 plane which leaked fuel during tests, is pictured at New Tokyo international airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo on January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo