Belfast Telegraph

Grounded Dreamliner a nightmare for Boeing

By Rob Williams

They are billed as the future of air travel, offering passengers bigger windows, more space, and the ability to travel longer distances in one trip - but the Boeing 787, also known as the Dreamliner, has now been grounded in the US and Europe, as well as Japan, amid safety concerns.

The entire US fleet of the aircraft, which has been beset with a range of design and safety-related issues, has now been grounded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) amid concerns that lithium ion batteries on the planes involved are unsafe.

European aviation regulators also followed America yesterday in ordering the grounding of Boeing's new plane.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it was endorsing the FAA directive grounding the Dreamliner until the risk of fires is resolved.

UK carrier Thomson Airways is set to be the first British airline to fly the Dreamliner. It is due to take delivery of the first of eight 787s this spring, with the first flights due to leave on May 1 for Cancun in Mexico and Florida.

British Airways is due to take delivery of the first of 24 Dreamliners in May, while Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to start taking the first of 16 Dreamliners in summer 2014.

Thomson Airways said yesterday: "Boeing has reassured us they will do everything possible to assist the FAA in their investigation, and will be taking every step to assure passengers and Thomson of the 787's safety and get the planes back into service.

"We will await the outcome of the FAA investigation into the 787 Dreamliner. At this time we are still working to our original delivery dates."

Virgin said: "We are still expecting to take delivery of 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from summer next year. Until then we are working with Boeing to understand all of the technical issues around the aircraft."

BA said: "The safety and security of our customers will always be at the heart of our operation and all our business decisions.

"We remain committed to taking delivery of our first Boeing 787 this year. We are confident any safety concerns will be fully addressed by Boeing and the FAA as part of their review into the aircraft."

Seattle-based Boeing said: "The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.

"Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working with its customers and the various authorities. We will make available the entire resources of the company to assist."