Japan Airlines Grounds Dreamliner Due To Fuel Leak

By: ABC News
By: ABC News

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Japan Airlines said a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet leaked fuel while undergoing tests today at the airport near Tokyo, marking the latest in a string of highly-publicized problems for the jetliner as it undergoes a safety review by the U.S. government.

The Dreamliner being examined leaked around 25 gallons of fuel from a nozzle in the left wing, according to a spokesperson for Japan Airlines. It was reportedly the same aircraft that spilled fuel onto the runway at Logan International Airport in Boston earlier this week, The Associated Press reported.

On Monday, firefighters battled an electrical fire on a grounded Japan Airlines 787, also at Logan.

"We are aware of the event and are working with our customer," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

The jetliner, which was unveiled as a luxurious and fuel-efficient way to travel, has recently been beset by problems.

Japan's All Nippon Airways has reported a fuel leak, a 3-foot-long crack in a cockpit window and a malfunctioning computer in its fleet of 787s.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced a comprehensive review of the carbon-fiber plane to ensure it is safe to fly, however officials did not waver in their support of the aircraft.

"I would fly on one today," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at a joint news conference with Boeing on Friday.

The plane will not be grounded by the FAA, and will continue to fly during the review, FAA administrator Michael Huerta said.

"Nothing suggests the airplane is not safe," Huerta said. "We believe this is a safe aircraft. To validate the work during the certification process, we'll work with Boeing to check on systems design and production.

"We want to make sure that the approved quality-control process is in place. We want to see the entire picture and not focus on individual events, to determine the root causes of these events," he said.

Huerta said the review will focus on the Dreamliner's electrical system, including the battery and the power distribution panels, and how electrical and mechanical systems interact with one another.

Aviation experts say that, except for the fire, the issues have all been minor.

"If there was something seriously wrong with this plane there is no question they would ground it," ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said. "That's not the problem here, there's nothing seriously wrong with the 787."

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