By James Topham and Alwyn Scott
TOKYO/SEATTLE Jan 13 Japan Airlines Co (JAL)
said on Sunday that a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner
jet undergoing checks in Tokyo following a fuel leak at Boston
airport last week had leaked fuel during tests earlier in the
An open valve on the aircraft caused fuel to leak from a
nozzle on the left wing used to remove fuel, a company
spokeswoman said. The jet is out of service after spilling about
40 gallons (roughly 150 liters) of fuel onto the airport taxiway
in Boston due to a separate valve-related problem.
In Boston, a different valve on the plane opened, causing
fuel to flow from the centre tank to the left main tank. When
that tank filled up, it overflowed into a surge tank and out
through a vent. The spill happened as the plane was taxiing for
takeoff on a flight to Tokyo on Jan. 8. It made the flight about
four hours later.
The causes of both incidents are unknown, the JAL
spokeswoman added. There is no timetable for the plane to return
"We are aware of the event and are working with our
customer," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said of the leak in
On Friday, the U.S. government ordered a wide-ranging review
of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, citing concern over a battery that
caught fire on Jan. 7, also on a JAL plane in Boston, and other
problems. The government and Boeing insisted the passenger jet
remained safe to fly.
The 787 represents the boldest bet Boeing has made on a new
plane in more than a decade, and because the aircraft required
billions to develop, much of the company's financial performance
is riding on its success. Boeing is trying to double production
to 10 jets a month this year to cash in on nearly 800 orders.
The eight airlines that operate the 50 jets delivered so far
have expressed support for it, saying the mishaps are teething
problems common with most new airplanes, and the 787's fuel
savings make it an important addition to their fleets. JAL and
local rival All Nippon Airways Co fly 24 Dreamliners.
The review follows a slew of incidents that have focused
intense scrutiny on the new plane. While many of the issues that
have dogged the 787 are typically considered routine, their
occurrence in quick succession on an aircraft that incorporates
major new technology and has not seen wide use yet has sparked
concerns about safety.
In December, a 787 operated by United Airlines and
bound from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, was forced to land in
New Orleans after a warning light in the cockpit indicated a
generator had failed.
Boeing later said a faulty circuit board produced in Mexico
and supplied by UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United
Technologies, had produced a false reading in the
cockpit. A UTC Aerospace spokesman declined to comment.
Also in December, two other 787s suffered problems with
electrical panels. The fire on Jan. 7 started when a lithium-ion
battery used in an auxiliary power system ignited while the
plane was parked at the gate. It burned for about 40 minutes
before firefighters put the flames out, and smoke entered the
cabin. Passengers and crew had already left the aircraft.
On Dec. 5, U.S. regulators said there was a manufacturing
fault in 787 fuel lines and advised operators to make extra
inspections to guard against engine failures.
Last week, the plane had seven reported incidents, ranging
from the fire to a cracked cockpit window.