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No indication of when EASA will lift grounding of Boeing Dreamliner jets, says EASA

posted 17 Jan 2013, 09:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Jan 2013, 09:35 ]

EASA gives no indication of when Boeing Dreamliner grounding will be lifted as international aviation authorities investigate battery-related problems.

COLOGNEGERMANY (JANUARY 17, 2013) (REUTERS) - The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Thursday (January 17) said there were still no clear indications of the exact fault in Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets as the planes remained grounded during ongoing investigations.

"We don't know yet and this is exactly why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the U.S. has decided to undertake a complete review, in particular of the electric systems and we are fully prepared to provide support to the FAA, the Americans, in order to support them in their investigations," Dominique FoudarEASA head of communications told Reuters TV.

The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite plane has been plagued by recent mishaps, raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries. An All Nippon Airways domestic flight made an emergency landing on Wednesday after warning lights indicated a battery problem.

The FAA on Wednesday temporarily grounded Boeing's newest commercial airliner, saying carriers would have to demonstrate the batteries were safe before the planes could resume flying. It gave no details on when that might happen.

EASAJapan and India joined the U.S. in grounding the flights causing airlines to scramble to rearrange air travel plans.

"The Dreamliner has been designed in the U.S. So the FAA is the primary so-called state of design certification authority, so they have issued an unworthiness directive, so it is international practice that when the state of design issues a directive, other authorities around the world would follow unless they have issued their own directives beforehand. It was not the case for EASA, that is why we have immediately adopted the FAA directive," Foudar said.

Boeing said in a statement it was confident the 787 was safe and it stood by the plane's integrity.

EASA said it was unclear how long investigations would run.

"We cannot really speculate on how long it will take. Of course it will depend on the findings that are made by the review of the systems by the FAA but what is decided, what has been decided by the FAA and adopted by EASA is made to ensure that the continuing air-worthiness of the Dreamliner is ensured. So every action will be taken by the U.S.., by Europe to ensure that the safety of the passengers is ensured," Foudar said.

Boeing shares fell 1.3 percent, or about 88 cents, to $73.44 in early New York Stock Exchange trading, hitting their lowest point in about two months. For the first few weeks of the recent spate of incidents, the stock held up relatively well compared with the broader market, but in recent days has weakened as analysts grew wary of the costs Boeing may face.