Europe, Japan and India on Thursday joined the United States in grounding their fleet of Boeing Dreamliner 787s, a day after a Japanese aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing.
Japanese Transport Ministry Vice Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said the grounding was for an indefinite period, and India's aviation regulator said it was unclear when the aircraft would be back in service.
The emergency landing of Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) outside Tokyo on Wednesday was the sixth incident in the past 10 days to hit the Dreamliner, which Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) has spent billions of dollars on and touted as the future of air travel, due to its radical new design, systems and materials.
An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner sits on the runway at Takamatsu airport after it made an emergency landing
ANA and Japan Airlines, the two carriers involved in all the incidents, have grounded their 24 Dreamliners.
A spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency said the region would follow the U.S. grounding order. Poland's LOT Airlines LOT.UL is the only European airline currently operating the 787.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Wednesday it would temporarily ground Boeing's newest commercial airliner and insisted airlines would have to demonstrate the lithium ion batteries were safe before they could resume flying. It gave no details on when that might happen.
The regulator said it will work with Boeing and airlines "to develop a corrective plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible"
It is the first such action against a US-made passenger plane since the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was grounded in 1979 after a deadly crash in Chicago, analysts said.
Boeing said in a statement it was confident the 787 was safe and it stood by the plane's integrity.
"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," Chief Executive Jim McNerney said.
The burnt auxiliary power unit battery removed from a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet after it caught fire at Logan International (Toronto: LII.TO - news) Airport in Boston on January 7 (AFP/Getty Images)
The incident is the sixth in the past 10 days to hit the Dreamliner, which Boeing has spent billions of dollars on and touted as the future of air travel, due to its radical new design, systems and materials.
Officials from Boeing, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are expected to arrive in Tokyo tomorrow morning to help investigate the incident the Japanese government called “highly serious”.
Shares in Boeing dropped more than 3.4pc to $74.34 (£46.51) in trading on Wednesday.
Although there are only 50 Dreamliners in active service, airlines have orders with Boeing for more than 800. The airline is increasing production this year to fill those orders.