Middle East's airlines cautious over Dreamliner
In a fresh and the biggest blow yet to the US planemaker Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jet, two Japanese carriers - All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) grounded their entire fleet of 787s on Wednesday following an emergency landing by one of the ANA aircraft due to a battery fault warning.
The latest in the series of faults has triggered concerns globally. While India’s aviation regulator said on Wednesday it would conduct a safety review of the 27 Boeing Dreamliner planes purchased by Air India (with six delivered so far), Gulf carriers, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, are adopting a wait-and-watch approach.
With a total of 41 Dreamliners on order, Etihad Airways is though not expecting its first delivery until late 2014, the airline says, it is monitoring the situation. “Etihad Airways is in regular contact with Boeing and we are monitoring the pending US National Transportation Safety Board review of the 787 Dreamliner programme,” an Etihad spokesman told Gulf News in a statement, adding the carrier is confident that any issues with the aircraft will be resolved before its first delivery.
The biggest 787 customer in the Middle East, Qatar Airways, which has five of the aircraft in service today with another 55 on order, is also watching the situation closely. “We are not commenting on the current situation. If this changes, we will advise,” said a Qatar Airways spokesperson, adding, a further five planes are due to join the fleet in 2013.
Boeing, however, managed to win the Doha-based carrier’s backing a few days ago, when its chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, played down the Dreamliner plights, calling the technical glitches with the aircraft “teething problems” that won’t affect his purchase plans. “We will have these problems,” he had said.
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