No evidence Dreamliner fire linked to batteries: AAIB

Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:32pm EDT
 

By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - Investigators have found no evidence of a link between a fire that broke out on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at London's Heathrow airport and the plane's batteries, Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Saturday.

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 fire broke out on the Ethiopian Airlines plane on Friday afternoon, when it was parked at a remote stand with no passengers on board, 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 Friday had suffered a "minor technical issue" and had now had a small number of components replaced.

Thomson said the aircraft had been fully tested and was being taken back into service at once. The airline declined to specify which components had been replaced.

Thomson Airways, owned by the world's largest tour operator TUI Travel, has a total of three Dreamliners and all are now operating normally, the airline said.   Continued...

 
Emergency crew surrounds a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, which caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport in this July 12, 2013 still image taken from video. REUTERS/Pool via Reuters TV