BOEING Co's 787 Dreamliner jets suffered a third mishap in as many days yesterday, 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 fly from Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan to Tokyo due to brake problems.
That followed a fuel leak on Tuesday that forced a 787 operated by Japan Airlines to delay take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport, a day after an electrical fire on another 787 following a JAL flight to Boston from Tokyo.
Asian customers rallied behind the US plane maker, however, saying such teething troubles were not uncommon on new planes and confirmed they had no plans to scale back or cancel orders for the aircraft, which has a list price of US$207 million.
Japan is by far the biggest customer for the Dreamliner to date, with JAL and All Nippon Airways 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 spokesman 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 colors, will also stick with its orders for another 49, spokesman Etsuya Uchiyama said.
State-owned 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," a spokesman 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.
Air China, which sees the 787 as a way to expand its international routes, and Hainan Airlines also said they were keeping their orders for 15 and 10 of the planes.
"New airplanes more or less will need adjustments, and currently we have no plans to swap or cancel orders," said an executive at future 787 operator Hainan Airlines.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, who has previously criticized 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.
Other carriers already flying the Dreamliner are Ethiopian Airlines, LAN Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines and United Airlines.
Tuesday's fuel leak delayed departure for four hours.
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.
SOURCE: Shanghai Daily
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