Aviation authorities around the world ordered airlines to stop flying their Boeing 787 Dreamliners over fire risk associated with battery failures aboard the highly touted aircraft.
Groundings that extended globally on Thursday stemmed from a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration directive on Wednesday night that planes should not fly until the problems are resolved.
The action resulted from recent mechanical and other glitches culminating with a severe battery related fire aboard an empty Dreamliner in Boston 10 days ago and an emergency landing in Japan this week prompted by an alarm indicating smoke in an electrical compartment.
"The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes," the FAA said in a statement.
"The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment," the FAA said.
In all, authorities in Europe, Japan and India have grounded the planes while the battery problem is investigated. Carriers in Chile and Ethiopia also set down their 787s until further notice.
United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier to operate the Dreamliner. The carrier said it would work with the FAA on its directive. It inspected its fleet of six 787s after the Boston fire.
The marquee and technologically advanced 787 is widely viewed as crucial to the future of the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer.
The Dreamliner order book is very strong even though the plane had years of embarrassing setbacks and cost overruns during development.
The first commercial Dreamliner flight took off in October 2011, flying from Tokyo to Hong Kong, and the planes flew without major problems for months.
But Boeing's most recent problems with the plane extended beyond battery technology, global safety regulators, canceled service and a steady stream of negative publicity. The company's shares on Wall Street are sharply lower as well.
Growing list of problems
Most problems have been considered fixable and described as growing pains for a new airliner. But these experts say any battery system design problem would raise larger issues for the manufacturer, carriers and travelers.
Dreamliners fly 150 flights daily worldwide, Boeing said.
Since July, the growing list of reported troubles aboard the planes include a fuel leak, an oil leak, two cracked engines, a damaged cockpit window and a battery problem.
The FAA announced a safety review of the aircraft last week before taking stricter action on Wednesday.
In the most serious incident so far, an All Nippon Airlines (ANA) 787 with 129 people aboard made an emergency landing after a battery alarm on Wednesday. Those aboard reported a burning smell in the cabin, and an alarm indicated smoke in a forward electrical compartment.
Hours later, ANA and Japan Airlines announced that they were grounding their Dreamliners -- a total of 24 planes -- pending an investigation. Japanese authorities followed suit, saying the planes should stay on the ground until battery safety could be assured.
The head of India's civil aviation regulator, Arun Mishra, also asked Air India to halt operation of its six Dreamliners for the time being. The European Aviation Safety Agency said it, too, had adopted the FAA directive, which applies to the two 787s flown by the Polish carrier LOT.
Ethiopian Airlines also announced it was temporarily grounding four Dreamliners, according to regional manager Yohannes Teklu.