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Polish LOT airlines' Dreamliner grounded in Chicago

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 17.01.2013 08:07
UPDATED - LOT airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been grounded at an airport in Chicago, after the US aviation regulator grounded all such planes amid safety concerns.

A TV monitor shows the cancelled status of the LOT Polish Airlines flight 004 to Warsaw, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 16 January. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplanes pending safety checks of the planes lithium batteries and are proven to be safe to fly. EPA/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI

Polish LOT airlines' Dreamliner left Warsaw's Chopin airport last night on its inaugural commercial transatlantic flight to O'Hare international airport in Chicago.

The plane will now stay in Chicago after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered that the 787s must undergo safety checks after a battery fault caused an emergency landing in Japan.

The FAA said airlines would have to demonstrate that the lithium ion batteries involved in the Japan incident were safe before they could resume flying Boeing's newest commercial airliner, but gave no details on when that could occur, Reuters reports.

Indian and Chilean airlines airlines grounded their Dreamliners in response and now around four-fifths of the new aircraft in service throughout the world are now grounded over safety fears.

LOT spokesman Mark Kłuciński said that “we respect this decision” of the US aviation authority to ground the planes, adding, however, that the flight to Chicago from Warsaw “ran smoothly”, the PAP news agency reports.

LOT representative in the United States, Frank Joost, could not say how long the Dreamliner will be in Chicago.

"We now look forward to the results of the investigation,” he told Polish Radio.

It is currently unknown when the 787 can make the flight back to Warsaw and all passengers on the return flight Thursday morning (Polish time) have been booked on alternative flights.

Poland's second Dreamliner has also been grounded at the airport in Szczecin in the north west, after arriving yesterday on a training flight from Warsaw, Polish Radio understands.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has ordered all Dreamliners currently on the continent to be grounded for safety checks, following the US decision.

Boeing's shares fell 2 percent in after-hours trading to 72.75 USD after the FAA announcement that Dreamliners had been grounded till further notice.

Poland received its first Dreamliner, which cost over 200 million USD a piece, in November last year, the first of ten 787s the loss-making LOT national airline purchased from Boeing.

The use new battery technology - which caused the emergency landing of an All Nippon internal Japanese flight this week after smoke appeared in the cockpit - is among the cost-saving features of the 787, which Boeing says burns 20 percent less fuel than rival jetliners using older technology.

Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire if they are overcharged and, once alight, they are difficult to put out as the chemicals produce oxygen, Boeing's chief engineer for the 787, Mike Sinnett, told Reuters last week.

LOT airlines has reported that no incidents involving faulty batteries have been reported on its Dreamliner flights.

Canon-fire and applause greeted the plane as it landed on the tarmac for the first time in Warsaw in November 2012.

LOT is the first airline in Europe to have the Dreamliners, which can take up to 290 passengers.

Its first commercial flight was from Warsaw to Prague in the Czech Republic on 14 December. (pg)

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