U.S. experts arrive in Japan to assist probe of ANA Dreamliner

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:37pm EST

By Antoni Slodkowski
    TAKAMATSU, Japan, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A team of experts from
U.S. aviation authorities and Boeing Co arrived in
western Japan on Friday to inspect a passenger jet operated by
All Nippon Airways Co that made an emergency landing
earlier this week.
    The incident prompted regulators in the United States and
around the world to ground the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.
Battery-related problems are being investigated after warning
lights indicated a battery problem on the ANA flight on
Wednesday. All passengers and crew were safely evacuated from
the plane.
    The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite aircraft has been
plagued by mishaps, raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion
batteries.
    The five representatives from the U.S. National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) and Boeing are to assist Japanese
authorities in the investigation of the ANA 787 Dreamliner,
which remains parked on the side of the Takamatsu airport.    
    "We are joining the JTSB (Japan Transport Safety Board) team
today. We are here to support the JTSB," Lorenda Ward from the
NTSB told reporters at the Takamatsu airport.
    GS Yuasa Corp, the Japanese company that makes the
batteries for the Dreamliner, also said it had sent three
engineers to Takamatsu in western Japan to help the
investigation.
    Regulators in Japan said it was unclear when the Dreamliner
could be back in the air. Japan is the biggest market so far for
the Dreamliner, with ANA and local rival Japan Airlines Co Ltd
 operating 24 of the 50 Dreamliners delivered to date.
    Keeping the 787s on the ground could cost ANA alone more
than $1.1 million a day, Mizuho Securities calculated, noting
the Dreamliner was key to the airline's growth strategy.
    JAL said on Thursday it had cancelled eight Dreamliner
flights between Tokyo and San Diego until Jan. 25, affecting
some 1,290 passengers, and would switch aircraft for another 70
flights scheduled to fly the 787.
    The JTSB said the battery on the ANA flight that made the
emergency landing was blackened and carbonised, the Kyodo news
agency reported on Thursday.
    The use of new battery technology is among the cost-saving
features of the 787, which Boeing says burns 20 percent less
fuel than rival jetliners using older technology.
    The 787, with a list price $207 million, represents a leap
in aircraft design, but the project has been plagued by cost
overruns and years of delays.
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