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Third Boeing 787 Dreamliner grounded this week for problems

11:22 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA) moving down the runway at Narita Airport on October 26, 2011 (Getty Images file)
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(USA Today) -- Boeing's 787 Dreamliner continued to have problems on Wednesday when an All Nippon Airways flight in Japan was canceled over a problem with the plane's braking system.

ANA 698, a domestic flight headed to Tokyo's Haneda airport, was cancelled because brake parts from the rear left undercarriage needed to be replaced, Agence France Presse is reporting.

RELATED | Fuel leak reported on Boeing 787 in Boston
MORE | Battery causes fire on Japan Airlines 787 in Boston

"In the cockpit, an error message related to its brake system was displayed," an ANA spokeswoman told the AFP.

"The exact nature and the cause of the error message is not clear yet," she said.

The 98 passengers were switched to another flight for Haneda, AFP reports.

It's the third technical problem since Monday with Boeing's much celebrated aircraft.

On Tuesday, a Japan Airlines flight bound Tokyo was preparing for take-off at Boston's Logan International Airport when a fuel leak was discovered.

On Monday, a battery used to power another Japan Airlines Dreamliner when the engine is shut down on the ground caught fire at Logan.

The incidents are a setback for Boeing, which has marketed the Dreamliner as the jetliner of the future. The company started rolling out the aircraft last year. So far it has delivered 49 and plans to provide airlines with about 800 more.

The Dreamliner is the first commercial aircraft to be made largely of lightweight carbon composites rather than conventional aluminum and steel. Airlines around the world have bought the fuel- and cost-efficient planes.

Problems started during production, causing multiple delays of the aircraft's first delivery to All Nippon. And last month, United Airlines, the first U.S. carrier to fly the Dreamliner, and Qatar Airways had to divert or ground planes because of electrical issues on an aircraft that relies more on electricity than air pressure.

While the incidents have been an embarrassment for Boeing, some analysts say technical glitches during the first years of an aircraft are not uncommon.

"The 787 has undergone extensive testing, perhaps more testing than any other new aircraft in history," says Alan Bender, professor of aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "I believe these problems are still within the realm of 'typical' new airplane problems. We only need to go back a couple of years to see somewhat similar problems with the new Airbus A-380--another 'revolutionary' aircraft."

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said Tuesday that the company was looking into this week's incident. But, she said, Monday's fire was not connected to December's issues with United and Qatar.

She says Boeing is cooperating with the NTSB on Monday's fire and previous events. She did not comment on Tuesday's fuel leak.

"Before providing more detail, we will give our technical teams the time they need to do a thorough job and ensure we are dealing with facts not speculation," she said.

Japan Airlines spokeswoman Carol Anderson said early this morning that Tuesday's leak was in the left wing surge tank vent.

The plane returned to the gate when it was discovered that one of the four valves connecting the center tank and left main tank was opened and had resulted in fuel flowing from the center tank to the left main tank. The leak finally reached the surge tank near the wing tip and out the vent, she said.

The leak was fixed and the plane was cleared for take-off to Tokyo's Narita airport, where it will undergo a more detailed inspection, she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into both U.S. incidents this week.

The National Transportation Safety Board gave an initial review of Monday's fire, which happened shortly after the plane landed from Tokyo and all passengers were deplaned.

Three investigators sent to Boston determined that the battery had caught on fire in the plane's auxiliary power unit, which is used when the jet's engines are turned off.

Firefighters discovered a fire in the electronics and equipment bay near the power unit's battery box, the NTSB's report says.

The fire was extinguished in about 40 minutes. A firefighter had minor injuries. No passengers were injured.

(USA Today)

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