More than half the Boeing 787s in use around the world have been grounded after an emergency landing by one of the jets revealed a battery fire risk in the aircraft.
Japan's two biggest airlines and the US aviation agency took action after the incident on Wednesday.
The 787, known as the Dreamliner, is Boeing's newest jet, and the company is counting heavily on its success. But since its launch after delays of more than three years, the plane has been plagued by a series of problems including a battery fire and fuel leaks.
The 787 that landed on Wednesday had been leaking electrolyte and burn marks were found around the main battery, located in an electrical room below the cockpit, according to All Nippon Airways (ANA). The domestic flight landed at Takamatsu airport in western Japan after a cockpit message showed battery problems and a burning smell was detected in the cockpit and cabin.
Japan's ANA and Japan Airlines are major customers for the jet and among the first to fly it. Japan's transport ministry said it received notices from ANA, which operates 17 of the jets, and Japan Airlines, which has seven, that all their 787s would not be flying. ANA executives apologised, bowing deeply at a hastily called news conference in Tokyo. "We are very sorry to have caused passengers and their family members so much concern," said senior executive vice president Osamu Shinobe.
In Washington, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was temporarily requiring US carriers to stop flying 787s. United Airlines has six of the jets and is the only US carrier flying the model, but aviation authorities in other countries usually follow the lead of the country where the manufacturer is based.
Air India later said it grounded its fleet of six Boeing 787 aircraft under orders from Indian aviation authorities. Its spokesman said they directed the state airline to stop flying the Boeing planes until an investigation by Indian regulatory authorities takes place. "Air India has temporary ceased operation of its Dreamliners," he said.
Boeing said it was working around the clock with investigators. "We are confident the 787 is safe, and we stand behind its overall integrity," Jim McNerney, company chairman, president and CEO said in a statement. Boeing has said that various technical problems are to be expected in the early days of any aircraft model. The 787 relies more than any other modern airliner on electrical signals to help power nearly everything the plane does.
Indian government aviation minister Ajit Singh said he ordered Air India to ground its Boeing 787 aircraft pending an investigation by the FAA. "Now that the FAA has said that they want to check (the) electrical system in all the planes we will ground them," he told reporters. "How serious is the problem, how long it will take, we'll know only in a couple of days." India will not allow the planes to fly again until the FAA and India's own aviation authority certify them as safe, he said.
Safety inspector Hideyo Kosugi said the main battery beneath the cockpit of the Boeing 787 forced to make an emergency landing in Japan was swollen from overheating.