Dreamliner fire named as serious by investigator
LONDON - ReutersInvestigators classified the fire that broke out on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at London’s Heathrow airport as a “serious incident” but have found no evidence it was caused by the plane’s batteries, Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on July 13.
The question of whether the fire was connected to the batteries is crucial because the entire global fleet of Dreamliners, Boeing’s groundbreaking new flagship jet, was grounded for three months this year due to battery-related problems.
The AAIB designation fell just short of a full-blown “accident” on the scale it uses to describe investigations. The agency’s preliminary probe is expected to take several days, opening up Boeing to more questions about its top-selling plane.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the blaze, airlines around the world continued to operate the Dreamliner. Some 18 787s took to the skies July 13 afternoon, about the same as 12th.
‘No battery issue’
The fire broke out on the Ethiopian Airlines plane on July afternoon, and was discovered when smoke was seen on the plane eight hours after arriving from Addis Ababa. No one was injured.
“There has been extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft, and the initial investigation is likely to take several days,” the AAIB said in a statement.
“However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship.”
Separately, Britain’s Thomson Airways said one of its Dreamliners that turned back during a flight from
Manchester to Sanford in Florida on July 12 had suffered a “minor technical issue” and had now had a small number of components replaced.