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Norwegian Air Shuttle Grounds Boeing 787 Dreamliner To Investigate Technical Issues

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NORWEGIAN AIR SHUTTLE
An employee prepares to service a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle AS, at Gatwick airport in Crawley, U.K., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Gatwick, acquired by Global Infrastructure Partners Ltd. in 2009 after regulators sought a breakup of BAA Ltd., owner of the larger Heathrow hub, is 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of London and serves about 200 destinations, more than any other U.K. airport, according to flight schedule data provider OAG. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/B | Getty

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA on Saturday became the latest airline to ground a Boeing 787 so that officials from the American company can examine what appears to be a technical problem.

Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said Saturday that the plane "has not been reliable enough and passengers have been subjected to too many delays." He declined to identify the technical glitches encountered.

In the meantime, the Scandinavian low-cost carrier will lease an Airbus A340 to fly on its two new long-haul destinations between Stockholm, Sweden, and New York and Bangkok.

In an email, Boeing said it had agreed to "implement a number of enhancements to improve the airplane's in-service reliability," and that the jet would be out of service for "a matter of days."

"We are working tirelessly to provide support to Norwegian," the statement said. "We regret the inconvenience and disruption caused to the airline and its passengers as a result of this process."

Norwegian Air Shuttle has ordered eight 787s and received two.

The 787 is the world's first commercial plane made mostly of lighter-weight composite materials. Boeing says the plane cuts fuel consumption by 20 percent and lowers operating costs by 30 percent. The 787 is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium ion batteries, which are lighter weight, charge faster and contain more energy than conventional batteries similar in size.

However, the aircraft has been plagued by problems since the jets were grounded worldwide in January for lithium-ion batteries that overheated or caught fire following an incident on a flight by the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways. Flights resumed four months later after a revamped battery system was installed.

But in July, a Boeing 787 with Ethiopian Airlines caught fire while parked at London's Heathrow airport, and the Polish airline LOT reported technical problems and demanded that Boeing try to solve a potential safety threat.

In August, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines briefly grounded their Boeing 787s for wiring problems unrelated to battery defects.

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