The two largest airliners in Japan have grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliners after one of the passenger planes was forced to make an emergency landing Wednesday.
Nippon Airways (ANA) and rival Japan Airlines, made the move after an ANA Dreamliner made an emergency landing due to smoke in the cockpit, reported Japanese broadcaster NHK
A series of recent problems has plagued Boeing’s newest aircraft, according to NHK, including fuel leaks and a battery fire. Other previous Dreamliner issues include a cracked windshield and a malfunctioning brake system, reported the Japan Daily Press.
ANA and Japan Airlines use 24 of the 50 Dreamliners currently in service.
ANA officials said there was an apparent battery malfunction in the Dreamliner that caused the emergency landing on Wednesday. The incident prompted an official with the U.S. Department of Transportation to initiate a review of the incident.
The plane, which had 137 passengers on board, landed safely at the Takamatsu Airport, reported Jiji Press.
“I prayed for a quick landing,” a 40-year-old male passenger was quoted as saying. There was one person who suffered minor injures and was taken to the hospital.
Others said that a “burning-like smell” wafted through the plane’s cabin and cockpit, reported the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “It came from the front. It smelled like burning plastic,” passenger Kenichi Kawamura told WSJ.
When the plane arrived at the airport, all 137 people on board slid down the emergency ramps onto a runway, according to WSJ.
The Japan Transport Safety Board said the incident could have caused a serious accident and sent investigators to the Takamatsu Airport, according to NHK.
Japan’s Transport Ministry said Wednesday that it had received notices from both airlines that the Dreamliners will remain grounded, reported The Associated Press (AP).
Brendan Sobie, the chief analyst at CAPA-Center for Aviation, told AP that the newest aircrafts run higher risks upon first being released. The Dreamliners debuted in November 2011.
“There are always teething problems with new aircraft, and airlines often are reluctant to be the launch customer of any new airplanes,” Sobie said. “We saw it with other airplane types, like the A380 but the issues with the A380 were different,” he added, referring to the Airbus A380.
At a news conference, ANA officials bowed quickly and apologized for the mishap.
“We are very sorry to have caused passengers and their family members so much concern,” ANA Senior Executive Vice President Osamu Shinobe said, according to AP.
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