Norwegian Air Dreamliner grounded in U.S. due to technical problems

Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:50am EST

* Latest in series of technical problems for the plane

* Norwegian Air has three Dreamliners in operation

OSLO Dec 23 (Reuters) - Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle said one of its Boeing Dreamliners was grounded in the United States, the latest in a string of technical problems to hit the new plane.

The newest of the company's three Dreamliners should have left Fort Lauderdale for Stockholm on Saturday but was unable to due to technical problems, Norwegian Air said on Monday.

"We are waiting now for spare parts from Boeing, and once they arrive the technicians are going to work on the plane," Norwegian Air spokeswoman Anne-Sissel Skaanvik told Reuters.

"We are getting these spare parts soon."

She could not give more detail as to the nature of the technical problem.

The Dreamliner was supposed to be a game changer for the aviation industry as its lightweight body and sophisticated engines cut fuel consumption by 20 percent.

But it has been beset by problems, including a battery fire that grounded the model for months this year and forced Boeing to come up with a new battery design.

According to Stockholm's Arlanda Airport website, the plane is expected to arrive in Sweden at 1200 GMT on Wednesday.

"We are very sorry about the delay and we understand that this is a very frustrating time for the passengers," Skaanvik said.

Norwegian Air, Europe's third-biggest budget airline after Ryanair and EasyJet, launched long-haul operations this year and hoped to capitalise on the Dreamliner's lower operating costs.

But during the autumn its first two Dreamliners broke down more than half a dozen times, forcing it to lease back-up planes at short notice or cancel flights. Since then the airline has added a third Dreamliner to its fleet.

Last week Norwegian Air said it would buy another two 787-9 Dreamliners, seeing the aircraft's technical advances as outweighing its operating problems as the budget carrier expands in long-haul services.

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