Boeing Dreamliners grounded worldwide on battery checks

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:13pm EST
 

By James Topham and Alwyn Scott

TOKYO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Airlines scrambled on Thursday to rearrange flights as regulators around the world joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

Poland's state-controlled LOT Airlines said it would seek compensation from Boeing for grounding its two planes. It expects delivery of three more Dreamliners by the end of March, but would only take them if the technical issues have been resolved, deputy chief Tomasz Balcerzak told a news conference.

The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite aircraft has been plagued by mishaps, raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries. An All Nippon Airways Co Ltd domestic flight made an emergency landing on Wednesday after warning lights indicated a battery problem.

Boeing shares were up about 0.6 percent at $74.78 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. For the first few weeks of the recent spate of incidents, the stock held up relatively well compared with the broader market, but has weakened recently as analysts grew wary of the costs Boeing might face.

"While it is entirely possible that the current battery issue is resolved in short order, it is also equally possible that the 787s current certification could be called into question," BB&T Capital Markets analyst Carter Leake wrote Thursday, cutting his rating on the stock to "underweight."

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded Boeing's newest commercial airliner on Wednesday, saying carriers would have to demonstrate the batteries were safe before the planes could resume flying. It gave no details on when that might happen.

It is the first such action since the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 had its airworthiness certificate suspended following a deadly crash in Chicago in 1979, analysts said.

Boeing has sold about 850 of its new aircraft, with 50 delivered to date. Around half of those have been in operation in Japan, but airlines in India, South America, Poland, Qatar and Ethiopia, as well as United Airlines in the United States, are also flying the 787, which has a list price of $207 million.   Continued...

 
A 787 Dreamliner jet painted in All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan livery, sits idle on the tarmac parking at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, January 17, 2013. Airlines scrambled to rearrange flights as Europe, Japan, Qatar and India joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante