Engine, de-icer glitches dog 787s

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 flight was scrubbed Wednesday when one of its two engines failed to start, marking the third straight day of problems for the next-generation Dreamliner, which has been plagued by months of difficulties.

Although none of the recent glitches was thought to be serious, they spell more misery for Boeing, whose flagship plane has been beset with delays and system failures, particularly a battery problem that kept the global fleet out of the sky for some four months.

In the latest incident, the ANA jet was preparing to depart Yamaguchi Ube Airport on a flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Wednesday morning but the crew was unable to start the right engine.

The cancellation forced some 140 passengers to use other flights, including the next ANA Yamaguchi Ube-Haneda flight.

The aircraft was repaired and became ready to fly by around 11 a.m., some two hours after the cancellation.

ANA plans to fly the jet without passengers to Haneda for detailed checks.

The flight was to depart Yamaguchi Ube at 8 a.m. but the Boeing 787 engine failed to start apparently because the auxiliary power unit malfunctioned. ANA then tried and failed to start the engine with an outside power source.

The aircraft is not the same as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner whose battery trouble forced it to make an emergency landing on its way from Yamaguchi Ube to Haneda in January.

The glitch came a day after a Singapore-bound Japan Airlines Dreamliner had to turn back to Tokyo midflight because of a problem with its de-icing system.

On Monday, ANA had to cancel a Tokyo-bound flight while the plane was in Fukuoka, after instruments showed the left engine was not functioning properly.

The incidents come only weeks after JAL and ANA, the single biggest operator of 787s, put their full fleets of Dreamliners back into service following a four-month suspension over battery problems.

A global grounding order was issued in January after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two different planes, with one of them, operated by JAL, catching fire while the aircraft was parked in Boston.

Boeing admitted in April that despite months of testing, it did not know the root cause of the problems, but rolled out modifications it said would ensure the glitch would not occur again.

Since then, Dreamliners have experienced a series of minor glitches, including a fault with an air pressure sensor.