Boeing Dreamliner Deliveries Halted

Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) has halted deliveries of its of 787 Dreamliner jet until safety concerns over the aircraft's battery are resolved.

The US aerospace firm said it would continue building the new, lightweight carbon-composite plane, but deliveries to customers were on hold until its electrical system was fixed.

America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded the Dreamliners until Boeing can prove the lithium-ion batteries are safe.

In an email, a Boeing spokesman said: "We will not deliver 787s until the FAA approves a means of compliance with their recent Airworthiness Directive concerning batteries and the approved approach has been implemented."

The aircraft maker has booked orders for more than 800 of the planes from airlines around the world attracted by its increased fuel efficiency.

All of the 50 new Dreamliners already flying across the globe - in Chile, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Poland, Qatar and the US - were grounded earlier in the week after an All Nippon Air (ANA) 787 plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan when one of its rechargeable batteries overheated.

An investigator in Japan has said the charred insides of the plane's lithium ion battery show the battery received voltage in excess of its design limits.

At a news conference, the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) said the charred battery and the systems around it would be sent to Tokyo for more checks. It said there were similarities with an earlier battery fire on a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston's Logan International Airport.

The safety board hopes to produce a report into the problems within a week.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the top US transportation official, Ray LaHood, said the 787 would not fly until regulators were "1,000% sure" it was safe.

A week earlier, Mr LaHood said he would not hesitate to travel on a Dreamliner.

Officials from the FAA, the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing have joined Japanese authorities in looking into what caused warning lights to go off this week on an ANN (NYSE: ANN - news) domestic flight, prompting the emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.

The jet has been in service for 15 months, carrying more than 1 million passengers, but it has run into problems in recent weeks, including with fuel leaks, although risk of fire from the overheating batteries has emerged the biggest concern.

Mr LaHood said he could not predict when the 787 would resume flight.

But Jim McNerney, Boeing's chairman, president and CEO, has sent the company's employees a letter expressing confidence in the 787 and vowing to return the plane to service.

"I remain tremendously proud of employees across the company for the decade of effort that has gone into designing, developing, building and delivering the most innovative commercial airplane ever imagined," he said.

The attraction of lithium batteries is that they are significantly lighter than other types of batteries. That saves fuel, which is airlines' leading expense.They also charge faster, contain more energy and can be molded to fit into odd space on aeroplanes, which most other batteries cannot.

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