Boeing says Dreamliner 'safe' after US grounding

Boeing on Wednesday insisted its 787 Dreamliner was safe after US authorities ordered airlines to stop flying the plane over a fire risk linked to its lithium batteries.

"We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity," Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement.

"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."

Japan's two biggest airlines had already taken almost half the global fleet out of service, but the announcement by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) means 30 of the world's 50 Dreamliners have now been grounded.

"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority. Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible," McNerney said.

He added that his company "deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers."

The FAA action was prompted by a battery incident during an All Nippon Airways flight that resulted in an emergency landing in Japan on Wednesday, following another incident last week on an ANA 787 on the ground in Boston.

ANA and its rival Japan Airlines (JAL) -- among Boeing's biggest customers for the Dreamliner -- said they would ground their entire 787 fleets through Thursday at least, pending safety checks.

ANA has 17 Dreamliners and JAL has seven -- almost half the 50 planes currently in operation worldwide. Boeing has orders for nearly 850.

The Dreamliner is considered an aviation milestone with its extensive use of lightweight composite materials and electronics, instead of aluminum and hydraulics, and airlines have embraced the plane as a way to cut fuel costs.

But a week of mishaps leading up to the forced landing in Japan has made for unwelcome headlines for US manufacturing giant.

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