Airlines insist they'll stick with Boeing Dreamliner after fire

Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:24am EDT
 
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By Peter Griffiths and Rhys Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Airlines expressed confidence in the safety of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner on Sunday as investigators searched for the cause of a fire on one of the advanced jets and billions were wiped off the company's market value.

British officials said initial checks into what they called a serious incident appeared to rule out any link to the battery-related problems that grounded the Dreamliner fleet for three months earlier this year.

The fire on the Ethiopian Airlines plane at Heathrow Airport in London and a separate technical problem on a second 787 owned by Britain's Thomson Airways on Friday raised new questions about an aircraft seen as crucial to Boeing's future.

The incidents were a setback for a company trying to rebuild confidence in its flagship jet and compete with Airbus in the booming market for more fuel-efficient long-distance planes.

Britain's Tui Travel, which owns six European airlines including Thomson Airways, said its plane turned back during a flight from England to Florida and had a small number of unspecified components replaced. The parts were unrelated to the battery, it said.

"We want to reassure our customers that we have every confidence in this aircraft and would never operate it if we weren't 100 percent sure of its safety," a TUI Travel spokeswoman said.

No one was injured in the fire on the empty Ethiopian Airlines plane, which was parked at Heathrow. However, it closed Britain's busiest airport for 90 minutes.

Britain's Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB), part of the Department for Transport, said the damaged Ethiopian Airlines plane was being examined in a hangar at Heathrow.   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