Dreamliner Fire ‘Not Linked To Batteries’

Dreamliner Fire ‘Not Linked To Batteries’

Investigators say there is “no evidence” of a link between the blaze on a Dreamliner at Heathrow and the plane’s batteries.

Air accident experts investigating a fire on board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Heathrow Airport have said there is “no evidence” of a link between the blaze and the plane’s batteries.

Earlier this year, Boeing temporarily withdrew Dreamliner jets from service for modifications after fears that batteries on board could cause fires.

The latest probe has been taking place following Friday’s incident amid concerns the aircraft type could be grounded again.

The plane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, caught fire while on a remote parking stand shortly after 4.30pm on Friday, but nobody was on board and there were no injuries.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

It had been the first Dreamliner to fly after the aircraft type was grounded.

Thousands of travellers suffered long delays, though, after both runways at the airport were closed to all flights for an hour and a half while emergency crews dealt with the blaze.

The runways have reopened but Heathrow warned there would be some disruptions to services on Saturday and was advising passengers to check with their airline before setting off.

The US National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a representative to London to assist the Air Accidents Investigation Branch with its inquiry into the incident.

Ethiopian Airlines said the aircraft had been parked at Heathrow for more than eight hours before smoke was detected.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, Thomson Airways said a Dreamliner flight to Florida had to be diverted back to Manchester on Friday due to a “technical issue”.

The company’s shares fell 4.7% to $101.87 on the New York Stock Exchange on news of the Heathrow incident.

Travel expert Simon Calder told Sky News: “It’s entirely possible that the Dreamliner could be grounded, which I think would be unprecedented in the history of aviation to have an aircraft type be grounded twice in quick succession.

“If that were to happen, clearly, airlines would be very badly affected. They’d have to completely reconfigure their fleets.”

Earlier this week, Thomson Airways became the first British carrier to operate the Dreamliner. It has placed an order for eight of the planes.

The company had hoped to take delivery of the first of its 787s in time to start Dreamliner operations in May but these were delayed due to the battery problems.

Thomson said its Dreamliner flight to Florida was turned back to Manchester as a “precautionary measure”.

A spokeswoman said: “Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM126 travelling from Manchester to Sanford, Florida, experienced a technical issue and the aircraft returned to Manchester Airport, as a precautionary measure.

“The safety of our customers and crew is of paramount importance and we would like to apologise for the delay caused.”

The battery problems followed endless production difficulties for the Dreamliner, which has been marketed as a quiet, fuel-efficient aircraft carrying between 201 and 290 passengers on medium-range routes.

It should have entered passenger service in 2008 but it was not until October 2011 that the first commercial flight was operated by Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways.

British Airways has ordered 24 Dreamliners and Virgin Atlantic 16. It said it “remains committed” to taking the first of them in September next year.

A spokeswoman said: “Virgin Atlantic is in regular communication with Boeing to understand all the technical issues around the aircraft

“We are confident that Boeing and the relevant authorities are working hard to ensure that the appropriate action is being taken.”

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