Earlier this month, ANA was forced to make an emergency landing on a 787 domestic flight after a battery overheated and partially melted, triggering smoke alarms in the cockpit. The probe into that incident may take weeks or months as investigators still lack basic data to understand what went wrong, people involved have said.
In the meantime, the indefinite grounding of the Dreamliner has raised costs for both ANA and JAL and threatened to push back plans both carriers had for growth and new routes based on the new aircraft, analysts have said.
After three meetings by a panel of industry and policy experts that concluded in March 2008, Japan’s transport ministry said it would adopt 40 proposals to streamline regulations surrounding new aircraft. At the time, the ministry said the easier regulatory standards were designed in part to “quickly realize the benefits from the introduction of the 787.”
ANA, the Dreamliner’s biggest customer, and JAL committed to buy the first 787 in 2004, helping Boeing kick-start orders for the futuristic plane. Both subsequently increased their orders, with ANA planning to eventually fly 66 Dreamliners.
“At the time there was a lot of confidence in the aircraft. It was a discussion of measures to lower operating costs for the airlines,” said Harigae.
Japan’s government agencies often convene blue-ribbon panels of outside experts to review regulatory policy changes, as the transport ministry did for aircraft safety rules in 2007.
Changes endorsed by the aviation group, including 40 revised safety guidelines, were presented as an effort to bring Japan into line with the framework of regulations in other markets, including the United States. At least five recommendations in the advisory report benefited the 787. Four mentioned support for the Dreamliner directly.