Hat-trick of mishaps hits Dreamliner

Jan. 9 (Reuters): Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jet, a model that Air India is also buying, suffered a third mishap in as many days today, heightening safety concerns after a string of setbacks for the new aircraft.

Japan's All Nippon Airways said it was forced to cancel a 787 Dreamliner flight scheduled to from fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo because of brake problems.

That followed a fuel leak on Tuesday that forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to cancel take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport, a day after an electrical fire on another 787 after a JAL flight to Boston from Tokyo.

Asian customers rallied behind the US planemaker, however, saying such teething troubles were not uncommon on new planes and confirming they had no plans to scale back or cancel orders for the aircraft, which has a list price of $207 million.

Air India, which on Monday took delivery of the sixth of the 27 Dreamliners it has ordered, said precautionary measures were already in place and its planes were flying smoothly. "It's a new plane, and some minor glitches do happen. It's not a cause of concern," said spokesperson G. Prasada Rao.

Japan is by far the biggest customer for the Dreamliner to date, with JAL and All Nippon Airways (ANA) operating a total of 24 of the 49 new planes delivered to end-December. The aircraft entered commercial service in November 2011, more than three years behind schedule after a series of production delays. Boeing has sold 848 of the planes.

JAL spokesperson Kazunori Kidosaki said the carrier, which operates seven Dreamliners, had no plans to change orders it has placed for another 38 aircraft. ANA, which has 17 Dreamliners flying its colours, will also stick with its orders for another 49, spokesman Etsuya Uchiyama said.

There was no immediate suggestion that the 787 Dreamliner, the world's first passenger jet built mainly from carbon-plastic lightweight materials to save fuel, was likely to be grounded as investigators looked into the fire incident.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, who has previously criticised technical problems or delays with Boeing or Airbus jets, said there were no technical problems with the five 787s currently in use by the Gulf carrier. "It doesn't mean we are going to cancel our orders. It's a revolutionary airplane," he said.

The fuel leak on Tuesday was noticed at about 12.25pm ET (1725 GMT) after the plane had left the gate in preparation for take-off to Tokyo. About 40 gallons spilled, and the jet was towed back to the gate, where passengers disembarked, said Richard Walsh, a spokesperson for the transportation authority.

The plane departed about four hours behind schedule and was due to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday evening.

Monday's fire occurred on a 787 plane that had just arrived from Tokyo and whose 183 passengers and crew had disembarked.

No passengers or crew were injured in either incident, though firefighters were called out on both occasions.

Boeing shares fell nearly 2.7 per cent on Tuesday, following a 2 per cent drop on Monday ' wiping around $2.8 billion off its market value, or more than a dozen Dreamliners at list price.

Some analysts noted the potential for the combination of a fire and a fuel leak to affect public perception of Boeing and the new aircraft.

People working at OG Travel and Eurex, travel agents in Tokyo, said they had not seen any impact on reservations on flights using the 787 aircraft.

Carter Leake, an analyst at BBandT Capital Markets in Virginia, downgraded Boeing shares, noting that fires are potentially lethal and electrical issues are tough to solve, though he and others stopped short of calling it a game changer for the Seattle-based manufacturer.

"We're getting to a tipping point where they go from needing to rectify problems to doing major damage control to the image of the company and the plane," said Richard Aboulafia, a defence and aerospace analyst.

"While they delivered a large and unexpected number of 787s last year, it's possible that they should have instead focused on identifying glitches and flaws, rather than pushing ahead with volume production," he said.

Boeing said it was co-operating with the investigations, but it would be premature to go into detail. "However, nothing we've seen in this case indicates a relationship to any previous 787 power system events," the company said.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

...if they are to return to winning ways

...if they are to return to winning ways

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »