A Boeing 787 Dreamliner was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan Wednesday due to battery problems and a burning smell in the cockpit. This combined with two other safety incidents last week has prompted Japan's two top airlines to ground all 787 planes. NBC's Tom Costello reports.
TOKYO — A Boeing 787 Dreamliner headed for Tokyo made an emergency landing Wednesday morning in Takamatsu, Japan after error messages indicated there was a problem with the plane's batteries and smoke in the plane.
An "unusual smell" was detected inside the cockpit and the passenger cabin, according to a news conference held by All Nippon Airlines, whose plane was grounded. Fire trucks were deployed after the plane landed, but there was no fire to put out.
This adds to a slew of recent problems with Boeing's new Dreamliner aircraft. Another 787 — the world's first mainly carbon-composite airliner — had two fuel leaks, a battery fire, a wiring problem, brake computer glitch and cracked cockpit window last week.
The two Japanese airlines — ANA and Japan Airlines — said they would ground the 21 Boeing 787 jets currently being flown for further safety checks.
Both Japan and the United States have opened broad and open-ended investigations into the plane after a series of incidents that have raised safety concerns.
ANA said instruments on the early Wednesday domestic flight indicated a battery error. All passengers and crew evacuated safely by using the plane's inflatable slides, ANA said.
ANA said it evacuated 129 passengers and eight crew members from the Dreamliner after measuring instruments in the flight's cockpit indicated there was a battery malfunction and the pilot smelled something strange.
Flight 692 bound for Haneda Airport near Tokyo left Yamaguchi Airport in western Japan shortly after 8 a.m. but made an emergency landing in Takamatsu at 8:45 a.m. after smoke appeared in the cockpit, an Osaka airport authority spokesman said.
An All Nippon Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner, photographed here by a passenger, made an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan after there were reports of smoke in the cockpit.
Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel told Reuters: "We've seen the reports, we're aware of the events and are working with our customer."
Federal Aviation Administration officials said Friday they would conduct a comprehensive review of Boeing’s 787 airplane program following several high-profile mishaps, including a fire. But the FAA sought Friday to reassure fliers that they still believe the airplane is safe to fly.
In a statement following the emergency landing in Japan, the FAA said it is monitoring the report: "The incident will be included in the comprehensive review the FAA began last week of the 787 critical systems, including design, manufacture and assembly."
The FAA plans to review all aspects of the new aircraft, including design and production. But the review will focus heavily on the electric components of the aircraft.
The new 787 Dreamliner, which went into service in the fall of 2011, relies much more heavily on electric components than previous airplane models.
Boeing officials said Friday that they welcome a review of the new model aircraft and that the FAA's scrutiny did not diminish the company's confidence in the airplane.
Japan is so far the biggest market for the Dreamliner, with ANA and Japan Airlines Co. flying 24 of the 50 Dreamliners delivered to date.
Shares of Boeing Dreamlier suppliers in Japan came under pressure on Wednesday, with Fuji Heavy Industries, GS Yuasa Corp, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, IHI down between 1.6 and 3 percent, while the benchmark Nikkei shed 1.3 percent.
Japanese authorities said on Monday they would investigate fuel leaks on a 787 operated by JAL, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said later its agents would analyse the lithium-ion battery and burned wire bundles from a fire aboard another JAL 787 at Boston's Logan Airport last week.
NBC News' Allison Linn and Arata Yamamoto contributed reporting.
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