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FAA Grounds Boeing's New Jetliner In The U.S.

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Most of the world's 787 jetliners are not flying. The Federal Aviation Administration announced late Wednesday it was grounding the U.S. fleet of Boeing's flagship airliner until it's confident the planes are safe. As expected, other countries then grounded their airplanes too.


Still more trouble for Boeing's newest passenger jet, the 787, known as the Dreamliner. The FAA has grounded all U.S.-owned 787s because of safety concerns. This follows an earlier move by Japan doing the same. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports for today's Business Bottom Line.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: The grounding of the 787 marks the first time in more than three decades that the federal aviation administration has taken such a drastic step. The FAA says it's concerned about a potential battery fire safety risk. Twice in the past two weeks, 787s have experienced potentially serious problems with their lithium ion batteries. Boeing uses them because they pack an enormous amount of power in a small, efficient package.

But the batteries have a history of problems, says Guy Norris, a senior editor at Aviation Week.

GUY NORRIS: Batteries of this nature have been known to ignite if they're either overcharged or if they fall undercharge or if they overheat.

KAUFMAN: To deal with the potential risk, Boeing added safety enhancements to the battery and fire containment systems. But after the recent events, the FAA is concerned that the battery not be safe enough. The agency says it will work with Boeing and the airlines to develop a plan to resume 787 operations as quickly and safely as possible.

For its part, Boeing maintains that its planes - 50 of them have been delivered so far - are safe, and, the company says, it's working around the clock to address the problems. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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