Norwegian Air Grounds Dreamliner for ‘Reliability’ Tests

Norwegian Air Shuttle AS is taking one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes out of service for repairs and will lease an Airbus A340 to ensure all scheduled fights keep running between Sweden and the U.S. and Thailand.

The Dreamliner, Norwegian Air’s second, will be taken “out of operation for maintenance work and testing so it can give us the reliability we expect,” Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, a spokesman for Norwegian Air, said by telephone today. The plane is stranded in Bangkok after a hydraulic pump broke and will be returned to Stockholm later today or tomorrow.

Norwegian Air is grappling with technical glitches on the Dreamliner, from cockpit oxygen supply issues that delayed a flight to New York from Oslo on Sept. 22, to brake difficulties that affected the second 787 in Sweden this month. The global fleet of Dreamliners was grounded earlier this year after some batteries on planes operated by Japanese carriers caught fire.

“Boeing is dispatching a repair team and the necessary parts via chartered aircraft from the main maintenance base in Stockholm for Norwegian’s 787s,” Doug Alder, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The airliner is expected be out of service for “a matter of days,” the statement said.

In consultation with the airline, Boeing said a number of enhancements will be made to improve the airplane’s in-service reliability, following its return to Stockholm.

Technical Difficulties

The Norwegian company said Sept. 23 it planned to confront Boeing about the technical difficulties and that “something must happen, fast.”

Norwegian Air, which last year ordered 222 Boeing and Airbus airliners valued at 127 billion kroner ($21.2 billion), is flying new routes and opening bases outside the Nordic region as it steps up competition with state-backed SAS Group AB.

Boeing’s flagship airliner made its commercial debut in 2011. The plane, distinctive for its composite fuselage and electrical architecture, has come under scrutiny for a series of setbacks.

The global fleet was grounded for three months this year to fix lithium-ion battery meltdowns in two 787s’ power systems in January. Boeing and its suppliers redesigned the batteries and containment system.

Boeing had requested in July that customers look for a possible wiring fault on an emergency locator transmitter, which regulators indicated may have sparked a July fire on a parked 787 in London.

Last month, Boeing asked airlines to inspect their 787s to ensure proper configuration of fire-extinguishing bottles, after uncovering a defect it said stemmed from an error that occurred at a supplier.

Also last month, a 787 Dreamliner operated by Japan Airlines Co. returned to Tokyo’s Narita airport while en route to the U.S. after getting an onboard maintenance alert related to its wings.

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