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Japanese airlines suspend all Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights

Japan's two major airlines have grounded all Dreamliner models after a Boeing 787 was forced to make an emergency landing due to a malfunction. The announcement came after a week of technical problems for Boeing.

The Tokyo-bound flight was forced to land early Wednesday morning in western Japan after receiving a message indicating a battery problem. The flight crew also detected an unusual odor in the cockpit, according to an official from Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) speaking at a press conference.

The 137 passengers and crew members were evacuated and there were no reports of injuries.

ANA did not confirm the reports of smoke in the cockpit. It also cautiously commented on Wednesday's incident in light of Boeing's recent problems with its Dreamliner plane.

"It is true that the aircraft has recently seen a series of troubles," ANA spokeswoman Naoko Yamamoto said. "But we cannot say if this has something in common with previous problems."

Following ANA's press conference, Japanese Airlines (JAL) also announced it would suspend all Boeing 787 flights. The two airlines own about half of the Dreamliners that have been produced.

Boeing had not yet released a statement on its website regarding the decision.

Last week, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a review of the aircraft maker's recent technical mishaps. The decision came after two incidents at Boston's Logan International Airport.

Smoke filled a JAL Dreamliner which had just landed in Boston from Tokyo last Monday. Passengers were not on board at the time of the incident.

The following day, another JAL Dreamliner - also bound for Tokyo - began leaking fuel while preparing for takeoff.

Since their development, the long-distance models have experienced multiple issues. Compliant with current safety investigations, Boeing has remained "confident in the design and performance of the 787," it said on its website last week.

U.S. Boeing is the main rival of Europe's aviation manufacturer Airbus, which is currently developing the A350, a comparable model to the Boeing 787.

kms/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
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