US joins Japan in Boeing Dreamliner investigation

Japanese investigators looking into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jet plane have been joined by US aviation authorities, following its emergency landing earlier this week.

The domestic All Nippon Airways flight was forced to terminate its journey with an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan, after warning lights and smoke indicated a battery fault. The incident is the most recent – and most dramatic – in a series of mishaps and malfunctions concerning the 787 aircraft. Earlier in the same week, the aircraft encountered two fuel leaks, a battery fire, a wiring problem, a brake computer fault and a cracked cockpit window, as well as engine failures during testing prior to the aircraft’s commercial release.

Concerns have been raised over the 787’s use of lithium-ion batteries, heralded for their ability to store more energy and recharge more quickly, but which are thought to be more volatile. It is not know exactly where the problem lies, but a spokesperson for GS Yuasa Corp, the Japanese company that produces batteries for Dreamliner planes, said ‘Our company’s battery has been vilified for now, but it only functions as part of a whole system. So, we’re trying to find out exactly where there was a problem within the system.’

Since Wednesday’s emergency landing, all fifty Dreamliners already in service have been grounded until further investigation and safety checks have been carried out on the lithium-ion batteries. Today, a five-man team of representatives from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Aircrafts arrived in Japan to assist Japanese authorities with their investigation of the aircraft in question, which has not been moved from Takamatsu airport since its diversion there on Wednesday. Initial investigation is expected to be completed by Saturday afternoon, though it is not yet clear when the Dreamliner will be given the all-clear to fly again.

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