Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner can’t catch a break these days and is suffering more PR nightmares after Japan’s two biggest airlines grounded all their Boeing 787 aircraft for safety checks Wednesday. This move comes a day after another plane was forced to make an emergency landing due to smoke in an electrical compartment. Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines account for roughly half of the 787s already in service, and the most recent incident was the seventh safety concern with the high-tech plane experienced by ANA and JAL in less than two weeks. The mishaps included a fire in an unoccupied stationary aircraft, brake computer glitch, battery issues, fuel leaks and a cracked cockpit windshield. Boeing engineers have defended problems with the jet as routine for a new airplane, but are these incidents routine or do these aircraft have a serious issue? It appears that something might be going on with the Lithium-ion batteries on Boeing 787 aircraft and those batteries are made by GS Yuasa Corp in Japan. Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire if they are overcharged, so it will be interesting to see what the investigations turn up. Right now Boeing and GS Yuasa Corp shares are down due to concerns about the 800 pending Boeing 787 airplane orders.
“I think you’re nearing the tipping point where they need to regard this as a serious crisis,” said Richard Aboulafia, a senior analyst with the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. “This is going to change people’s perception of the aircraft if they don’t act quickly.” ANA, which said the battery in the forward cargo hold was the same lithium-ion type as one involved in a fire on another Dreamliner at a U.S. airport last week, grounded all 17 of its 787s, and Japan Airlines Co suspended its 787 flights scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.