Boeing Dreamliner catches fire at London's Heathrow airport

Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:42pm EDT
 
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By Rhys Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport on Friday in a fresh blow for the U.S. planemaker whose new model was grounded for three months after one high-tech battery caught fire and another overheated.

Boeing shares closed down 4.7 percent at $101.87, knocking $3.8 billion off the company's market capitalization after television footage showed the Dreamliner surrounded by firefighting foam at Heathrow.

Heathrow briefly closed both its runways to deal with the fire which broke out while the aircraft was parked at a remote stand. There were no passengers aboard the plane.

It was not clear if the fire was related to the batteries, which led to the grounding of the Dreamliner in January. Pictures from Heathrow showed an area just in front of the tail that appeared to be scorched.

The Dreamliner's two batteries are in electrical compartments located low down and near the front and middle of the plane, while the visible damage to the Ethiopian plane appears to be on top of the fuselage, further toward the rear, according to video from the scene.

(Graphic of key areas of the 787: link.reuters.com/zed69t)

"A Boeing 787 Dreamliner suffered an on board internal fire," a Heathrow spokeswoman said. "The plane is now parked at a remote parking stand several hundred meters away from any passenger terminals."

Former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said the Heathrow incident was extraordinary news, coming so soon after the fleet had returned to service, but he cautioned against jumping to conclusions.   Continued...

 
Emergency services attend to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, after it caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport in west London July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville