The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 16, 2013

Emergency landing grounds Boeing 787 jets in Japan

(Continued)

Japan's transport ministry categorized Wednesday's problem as a "serious incident" that could have led to an accident, and sent officials for further checks to Takamatsu airport. The airport was closed.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing were sending representatives to Japan on Wednesday to work with the Japanese government on the investigation, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.

It was unclear how long the Dreamliners would remain grounded. ANA said 14 flights were changed to other aircraft, while 31 domestic and seven international were canceled. JAL said eight were canceled, while two were changed to a Boeing 777.

One male in his 60s was taken to the hospital for minor hip injuries after going down an emergency slide from the aircraft, the fire department said. The other 128 passengers and eight crew members were uninjured, according to ANA.

Video shot by a Japanese TV reporter, who was on board the flight, showed the interior of the plane as passengers were evacuating, sliding down chutes, and then walking away on the tarmac. The video also showed crew members evacuating the aircraft.

The grounding in Japan was the first for the 787, whose problems had been brushed off by Boeing as teething pains for a new aircraft. The transport ministry had already started a separate inspection Monday of another 787 jet, operated by Japan Airlines, which had leaked fuel at Tokyo's Narita airport after flying back from Boston, where it had also leaked fuel.

A fire ignited Jan. 7 in the battery pack of an auxiliary power unit of a Japan Airlines 787 empty of passengers as the plane sat on the tarmac at Boston's Logan International Airport. It took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the blaze.

ANA canceled a domestic flight to Tokyo on Jan. 9 after a computer wrongly indicated there was a problem with the Boeing 787's brakes. Two days later, the carrier reported two new cases of problems with the aircraft — a minor fuel leak and a cracked windscreen in a cockpit.

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