Hansman said of the Japanese incident, "If this was an actual fire, that's a major problem. And it would be a major problem even if nothing happened over the past week."
The FAA ordered a comprehensive review of the 787's design at a news conference Jan. 11 with Boeing. But the agency assured the public that the 787s were safe to continue flying while it looked into the fleet's design and safety measures.
The Japanese Transport Ministry dispatched its own inspectors to Takamatsu Airport today. A spokesman said the Transport Safety Board and Civil Aviation Bureau will conduct separate investigations.
Manabu Tanaka, who was on the ANA flight today, said he smelled something burning about 20 minutes after takeoff.
"I knew the plane was new -- so I thought maybe the smell had something to do with that," Tanaka said. "All of a sudden, I felt the plane drop. It happened about two or three times. With the smell, and the turbulence I began to get really concerned."
MIT's Hansman said, "Clearly, people are very jumpy and they're nervous. I think that the review that's going on now will settle things down."
Japanese passenger Tanaka said he can't avoid 787 travel because he flies so much for business, but is "a little scared to board the Dreamliner, considering everything that happened."
A fire broke out Jan. 7 on an empty JAL Dreamliner at Boston's Logan Airport after a nonstop flight from Tokyo. It took firefighters 40 minutes to put out the blaze.
One day later, a different Dreamliner owned by JAL sprang a leak from its number-one engine right before takeoff from Logan, spilling about 40 gallons of fuel onto the runway. It had to be towed back to the gate before taking off later that day.
ANA canceled a domestic flight to Tokyo Jan. 9 after a computer wrongly indicated there was a problem with the Boeing 787's brakes.
A 3-foot-long crack appeared in the cockpit window of an ANA 787 flying in Japan Jan. 11.
Another JAL Dreamliner leaked fuel while undergoing tests at the airport near Tokyo Jan. 13. It was the same plane involved in the Jan. 8 incident in Boston.
No one was injured in any of those incidents, but JAL has followed ANA's lead and ordered its entire 787 feet grounded.
"As a result of the incident involving another airline's 787 in Japan today, to ensure safety, JAL has decided to cancel its 787 operations today," JAL said in a statement earlier today.