JAL 787 returns to Boston to check fuel pump alert

AFP-JIJI, JIJI

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 that left Boston for Tokyo on Thursday returned because of a potential fuel pump problem, the carrier said, dismissing concerns that the planes were facing a new crisis.

The high-tech Dreamliner has encountered a spate of problems since resuming commercial flights four months of being grounded worldwide for serious battery problems.

The plane left from Boston’s Logan airport at 12:57 p.m. but returned at around 6 p.m.

“As a standard precautionary measure due to a maintenance message (fuel pump) indicator, JL007 bound for Tokyo-Narita decided to return to Boston Logan for check and landed safely,” Carol Anderson, JAL’s U.S.-based spokeswoman, said in an email message.

Logan International Airport said on its Twitter site that the 787 made “a precautionary return.”

“Flight has landed and is taxiing to gate,” it said.

JAL officials in Tokyo also confirmed the maintenance message but dismissed concerns that the return might signal a new problem for the next-generation plane.

“We decided to return for precaution . . . as a message showing a malfunction of a fuel pump at the right engine appeared in the cockpit,” a JAL spokesman said.

Even if the pump was faulty, there was no safety risk because the engine has the function to suck fuel (in) as a back-up option, he said.

“There’s no emergency at all in this case. We just wanted to be on the safe side,” the official said, adding “this has nothing to do with the battery system”.

The incident came on the heels of other problems involving the 787, most recently a fire on Ethiopian Airlines’ 787 parked at Heathrow Airport in London on July 12.

As for the Ethiopian plane fire, the British investigation team on Thursday advised that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration halt the use of the plane’s emergency locator transmitter, saying the radio communications device may have been the source of the fire.