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Japan Grounds Boeing-787 Dreamliners After Emergency Landing

1/16/2013 1:42 AM ET

Japan's two main airline groups are grounding all of their Boeing (BA: Quote) 787 Dreamliners for inspection after their passenger flights met with technical problems, reports said.

All Nippon Airways (ALNPY.PK,ANA.L), or ANA, grounded its fleet of 17 Boeing-787 planes for inspection after one of the Dreamliners made an emergency landing in western Japan on Wednesday.

Shortly after Japan Airlines (JALFQ.PK), or JAL, announced suspension of the flights of its seven Dreamliners until further notice citing safety concerns.

ANA says smoke was detected in the high-tech plane's cockpit after its flight-692, carrying 137 people, took off from Yamaguchi-Ube airport at 8:10 a.m. The plane, bound for Tokyo's Haneda Airport, made an emergency landing at the Takamatsu airport in Kagawa prefecture at around 8:45 a.m.

The airline attributed the emission of smoke to a battery malfunction.

All passengers and crew members were evacuated safely, triggering a police inquiry, reports quoting ANA and airport officials said.

Boeing's light weight Dreamliner planes have been in high demand in commercial aviation industry, especially in Japan, since their launch in December 2009. Boeing made its first delivery of the 787-8 to ANA, one of its important customers, in September 2011.

The company claims that the "super-efficient airplane," capable of carrying 210-250 passengers, uses 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized airplanes, and travels at a similar speed as today's fastest wide bodies.

But a series of incidents this month, including a battery fire and fuel leaks, are setback for the U.S. aircraft manufacturing giant.

ANA had to cancel a domestic flight of Boeing-787 last week following a brake problem.

Japanese aviation authorities on Monday began an investigation into two successive fuel leaks on a Boeing-787 Dreamliner operated by JAL.

The aircraft spilled nearly 150 liters of fuel through a left wing nozzle on the runway of the Logan International Airport in the U.S. city of Boston last week. JAL mechanics checked the aircraft at Tokyo's Narita airport on return from Boston and found fuel leaking again from a different nozzle on the left wing on Sunday.

On January 8, fire broke out in a battery on another JAL 787 shortly after landing in Boston from Tokyo.

BBC quoted a Boeing spokesman as saying that the aircraft manufacturer was aware of Wednesday's incident, and that they will be working with their "customer and the appropriate regulatory agencies."

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by RTT Staff Writer

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