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India grounds all six Air India Dreamliners on safety concerns

CNN-IBN
Jan 17, 2013 at 10:16am IST

New Delhi: India on Thursday grounded all six of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft operated by state-owned carrier Air India. The Indian aviation regulator said the decision was made after the US Federal Aviation Administration and Japan also grounded their Dreamliner aircraft.

"The FAA has issued an advisory to ground the Dreamliners. We took a decision after that," Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra said. "As of now there is no clarity on when the Dreamliners will be back in service. Boeing has to satisfy everyone with safety standards," he added.

On Wednesday, Japan had grounded 24 Dreamliner owned by two of its airlines - ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Japan Airlines. Air India officials said they have grounded all the six planes in its fleet with immediate effect following the FAA directive and the DGCA advisory.

They said that FAA has directed the grounding of the entire Dreamliner fleet till such time as the aircraft manufacturer Boeing "demonstrate compliance" of various measures the American regulator has asked it to carry out. However, the officials maintained that its services will not be affected in any major way as flights to Paris and Frankurt operated by the Dreamliner will now be serviced by Boeing 777.

While one of the six planes is always on a standby, three are used on the domestic sector and two on international including Paris and Frankfurt, they said, adding that domestic services would be absorbed by the existing fleet of aircraft.

The American aircraft maker had last Friday jointly announced investigations with the FAA after three of these aircraft owned by the Japanese carriers suffered glitches in January -- an electrical fire, fuel leakage and a broken cockpit window.

In September 2012, Air India had also experienced a glitch in its Dreamliner's liquid cooling system and electrical power system, which had led to the grounding of all three of these planes at that time. After the faults were rectified, these aircraft have been flying regularly on select domestic and international routes.

Regarding the problem of fuel leaks, the Air India officials had said this was not something "unusual as it occurs in all aircraft types. Such problems have to be rectified immediately but these are not anything new or different." Boeing had designated a team in Delhi for any trouble- shooting for Dreamliners.

Dreamliners, the latest and most technologically advanced offering from Boeing, is made of lightweight composite materials instead of aluminium.

(With additional information from Reuters, PTI)

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