MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned all flights by Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on Thursday due to a spate of safety incidents in the last two weeks involving the airliner, EASA said.
EASA has ordered 787 operators to check the safety of the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries, which have been the cause of several fires in the aircraft. Poland's LOT airline is currently the only European operator with 787s.
The move comes immediately after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) ordered 787s to be grounded, and airlines in America, Chile, India and Japan said on Wednesday they were suspending operations by their 787s over safety concerns.
The FAA said in a statement on Thursday it had suspended all Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights following a number of incidents.
“As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations,” FAA said in a statement posted on its website.
Concern over the type's safety mounted on Wednesday after an All Nippon Airways had to make an emergency landing after a battery caused fumes to be detected inside the aircraft.
The ANA Boeing 787 was flying from Yamaguchi to Tokyo's Haneda airport, when the electrical instruments warned the pilots of a battery problem, after which a strange smell appeared in the cabin, followed by a smoke detector warning. The electrical compartment where the smoke was detected is located underneath the cockpit. All 137 passengers and crew were safely evacuated on the ground using emergency slides at the Takamatsu airport.
Wednesday’s incident came about a week after another 787 battery incident at Boston Airport in the United States and led to a small fire, when a battery box feeding the aircraft's auxiliary power unit ignited. The fire was put out and all passengers were safely deplaned.
Several other incidents involving battery fires, brake problems and oil and fuel leaks were reported in January, causing flights to be canceled and delayed. Another 787 was delayed Sunday at Tokyo's Narita airport after a fuel leak was detected.
“Before further flight, operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe,” FAA said.
Two Japanese air carriers, JAL and ANA, have already grounded all their Boeing 787 aircraft. The FAA decree will affect only United Airlines, which has six Dreamliners in its fleet.
The problems are of serious concern to Boeing, which plans to build hundreds of the aircraft to replace previous generation 767s and had touted it as a high-tech plane of the future, thanks to its cutting-edge technology, such as extensive use of carbon-fiber construction to reduce weight.
The 787 is a twin-engine liner capable of flying 250-330 passengers a distance up to 16,300 kilometers (about 10,130 miles).
(An earlier version of this story reported only the FAA ban and not the subsequent EASA ban).