After confirmation that an inflight battery fire caused the crew of an ANA 787 to declare an emergency landing during a domestic flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded US-registered 787s.
In issuing an emergency airworthiness directive (AD), the FAA said: “The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.”
The AD was prompted by the ANA 787 incident, the second fire caused by onboard lithium ion batteries in a week. A Japan Airlines 787 suffered a battery fire during turnaround in Boston.
In a statement the FAA explained: “The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.”
While the FAA directive affects only US-registered aircraft, which for the moment involves only United Airlines’ six 787s, the AD carries weight in the determinations of other national authorities.
In response to the FAA action, 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 around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.
“We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service.
“Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers.”
The NTSB, meanwhile, is sending representative to Japan to participate in the investigation of the ANA battery fire.
There is currently no indication of when the 787 will return to US skies or what the impact will be on non-US-registered aircraft.