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Japan Air Probes Dreamliner Fuel Leak as FAA Holds Review

Japan Airlines Probes Dreamliner Fuel Leak as FAA Holds Review
Special operations personnel enter a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner jet parked at a gate at Logan International Airport in Boston on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Photographer: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Bloomberg

Japan Airlines Co. is investigating a fuel leak on a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, the model that experienced an onboard fire last week in Boston and is now the subject of a U.S. safety review.

The leak occurred Jan. 13 during maintenance at Tokyo’s Narita airport, Japan Airlines said yesterday in a statement. The jet was the same one that had a leak at Boston’s Logan International Airport on Jan. 8, the carrier said.

“Fuel from a nozzle on the left wing used for discharging fuel leaked out,” Japan Airlines said in the statement. “This aircraft was not scheduled to be in service today and no passengers or working staff on the ground were injured. Appropriate inspections will be carried out.”

The latest incident extended a week of operational setbacks for Boeing’s newest and most technologically complex jet. Japan Airlines’ first leak came Jan. 8, the day after the fire, followed by a cockpit window cracking on one 787 flown by All Nippon Airways Co. and an oil leak on another ANA Dreamliner.

U.S. officials pronounced the 787 safe last week even as the Federal Aviation Administration disclosed the special review of the plane, citing concern stirred by the fire and other incidents. Electrical faults forced United Continental Holdings Inc. and Qatar Airways Ltd. to ground 787s in December.

Window Repaired

All Nippon repaired the cockpit window that cracked during a flight on Jan. 11, and the plane came back to Tokyo from Matsuyama in western Japan the next day, airline spokeswoman Megumi Tezuka said by telephone today. In the jet that leaked oil, a heat exchanger has been replaced, she said, adding that all 17 Dreamliners of the carrier are now in service.

Japan Air spokeswoman Sze Hunn Yap today said investigation for the Jan. 13 fuel leak is continuing. Five of the carrier’s seven Dreamliners are in service, she said by phone.

“We are aware of the incident and are working with our customer,” Paul Lewis, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said by e-mail.

The two Japanese carriers are among the biggest operators of the Dreamliner, the first jet with a fuselage made chiefly of composite materials. The 787 entered commercial service more than three years late in 2011.

Boeing has marketed the twin-engine jet as a way to open new routes between far-flung cities that don’t need the capacity of larger wide-bodies such as the 777 and the 747 jumbo jet. The 787 has become the planemaker’s fastest-selling model ever, with 848 orders through the end of 2012.

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