Norwegian Air’s New Dreamliner Stuck in Sweden Causes Delays

Norwegian Air Shuttle AS’s second Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner has been grounded in Sweden since Sept. 2 with apparent brake difficulties, forcing the carrier to lease two jets as it adds routes beyond the Nordic region.

The aircraft, delivered last month and not yet flown commercially, is showing indications of a braking-system malfunction. The Fornebu, Norway-based airline is working with Boeing to diagnose the issue and hasn’t yet figured out what’s wrong, spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said by phone.

As the plane was scheduled to begin service this week, flights to New York and Bangkok got backed up and the airline had to lease two Airbus SAS A340s from Portugal’s Hi Fly to carry passengers, he said. The jets were wet-leased, meaning they come complete with crew.

“We had many hours delay on the New York and Bangkok route and we’re still a bit behind,” Sandaker-Nielsen said. “We’ve been working 24/7 with Boeing since Monday to try and fix this but it’s still not fixed and we really don’t have a specific timeframe.”

Boeing is working with Norwegian to get the plane into service as soon as possible, U.K.-based spokeswoman Fiona O’Farrell said by phone. The Chicago-based planemaker has delivered a total of 83 Dreamliners to 13 customers, including 10 last month, according to the company’s website.

Error Message

Earlier today, an ANA Holdings Inc. 787 flying to Ube, Japan, from Tokyo, got an error message indicating an issue with the plane’s hydraulic system, though the jet kept flying and landed safely, Kyodo reported. The return flight was canceled, the news agency said.

Boeing’s flagship airliner, which made its commercial debut in 2011, came under scrutiny after a Dreamliner caught fire in London in July, a blaze later linked to defective wiring in an emergency beacon widely used by airlines. The aircraft, distinctive for its composite fuselage and electrical architecture, was grounded for three months earlier this year after lithium-ion batteries smoldered on two 787s.

Norwegian, which last year ordered 222 Boeing and Airbus airliners valued at 127 billion kroner ($21 billion), is flying new routes and opening bases outside the Nordic region as it steps up competition with state-backed SAS Group AB. Norwegian, founded in 1993, switched to a discount model in 2001, emulating Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc.

Earlier this week, the airline announced plans to fly from Scandinavia to California, saying the latest batch of 787s made such long-haul discount routes viable. Services linking Stockholm with Los Angeles are set to commence in March, to be followed by flights from Copenhagen in April and Oslo in June, with an introductory fare of $236 each way. Oakland will be served from Stockholm and Oslo starting in May.

Until the 787 can be put into service, the airline is using the same wet-lessor as it did earlier this year when its first Dreamliner delivery was delayed by the battery glitches that grounded the Boeing model.

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