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Europe, FAA ground Boeing Dreamliners

Posting in Transportation

The European Aviation Safety Agency has joined the FAA in grounding Boeing's 787 Dreamliners due to security concerns.

The agency said that it has followed the lead of U.S. regulators due to potential safety concerns. On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all U.S.-registered Dreamliners after an emergency landing was required in Japan when a battery caught fire. A similar problem was reported in Boston a week earlier.

"The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two model 787 airplanes," the FAA announced on Wednesday. "The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment."

A spokesperson for the European Aviation Safety Agency said the measures are currently in place "in order to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the European fleet."

The only U.S. carrier that operates Boeing's 787 Dreamliners is currently United Airlines, which said it has inspected its six-strong fleet. However, the firm intends to comply with the FAA's order and will "work closely" on the aircraft's technical review. India, Chile, Poland and Japan have all grounded their planes until further notice. Quatar Airways has also decided to land the flagship aircrafts as a precautionary measure.

Although the first commercial Dreamliner took flight in 2011, a host of technical problems -- including fuel and oil leaks, damaged windows and now battery issues -- prompted the FAA to announce a safety view of the craft last week.

In a statement, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said:

"Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.

We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service."

Image credit: Boeing

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— By on January 16, 2013, 9:29 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure