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AI tows Dreamliners to hangar

New Delhi, Jan. 17: Air India temporarily grounded its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, joining a growing list of global airlines to suspend operations, while baterry-related problems are investigated.

India’s directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) today directed the national carrier to ground its six Dreamliners after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive last night halting Dreamliner flights following a battery fire incident in Japan.

A 787 of Japan’s All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing yesterday as the jet’s main battery got overheated.

“The seriousness of the problems would be known within the next few days. Boeing has to come up with a plan. When they do that, then we will see,” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said.

India will not fly Dreamliners until the DGCA gives a clearance and the FAA says that the planes are deemed safe, he added.

Besides India, The US, Europe, Japan and Qatar have taken their 787s off the skies. Poland’s state-controlled LOT Airlines said it would seek compensation from Boeing. Late tonight Ethiopian Airlines said it was grounding four Dreamliners for “precautionary inspection”.

The FAA has grounded United Airlines’ six Dreamliners, pending checks of its batteries. This is the first time in four decades that the US regulator has taken such a measure.

In 1979, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 had its airworthiness suspended following a deadly crash in Chicago.

After yesterday’s incident, Japan had grounded 24 Dreamliners owned by two of its airlines — All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

The DGCA and the FAA are co-operating on a probe into Dreamliner’s problems.

DGCA chief Arun Mishra had earlier said he would be waiting for the FAA’s analysis before taking any decision on grounding the aircraft.

“We have asked Air India to ground the jetliners until the US Federal Aviation Administration has completed its review into the safety issues,” said Mishra.

Air India flies Dreamliners to Dubai, Paris and Frankfurt and has recently taken delivery of the sixth of the 27 planes ordered in January 2006.

Another six aircraft are to arrive by the end of this year. The national carrier plans to induct the remaining 15 Dreamliners in 2016.

The airline has switched back to B777s for its international flights to Paris and Frankfurt and will be flying B747s to Dubai. The national carrier said there would be no disruption of flight schedules.

As many as 50 Dreamliners have been delivered so far to eight airlines across the world.

 
 
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