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The Dreamliner’s latest in-flight emergency might be its scariest yet

Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
The Air India Dreamliner at the Paris Air Show in 2013.
By Heather Timmons
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

An Air India flight from Melbourne to Delhi was diverted to Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 5, after after all three of the jet’s navigation computers failed at the same time.

“The cockpit software system went blank,” IBN Live, an Indian television station, reported. “The flight landed without any navigation aid.” The failures took place in “three flight management computers that control navigation and allow a plane to fly long distances on auto pilot,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The flight landed safely, but more than 230 passengers and crew were stranded in Kuala Lumpur until mechanics who could fix the plane arrived from Hong Kong. “We are aware of the in-service incident and are working with Air India to provide support,” a Boeing spokesman said in an e-mail to Quartz.

Boeing’s Dreamliner aircraft has suffered a series of problems since it was introduced, most notoriously with its highly-flammable battery, and the Air India fleet has been particularly trouble-prone. The planes has 136 “minor technical snags” between September, 2012 and November, 2013, according to India’s civil aviation minister.  The Dreamliner involved in the diverted flight from Melbourne has been particularly affected: the plane’s windshield cracked while it was landing on two separate previous occasions, and its landing gear door was seriously damaged.

Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told the AFP that “software glitches” were responsible for the most recent incident. “It’s not a big issue,” he said.

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