News / Europe

Dreamliner Fire Classified as Serious; No Sign of Battery Issue

Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.
x
Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.
Ethiopian Airliner 787 Dreamliner prepare to take off from Addis Ababa, April 27, 2013.
Reuters
Investigators 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 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 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 Saturday afternoon, about the same as Friday.
 
The fire broke out on the Ethiopian Airlines plane on Friday 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.”
 
The Financial Times on Saturday reported that airline staff had discovered a problem with the aircraft's air conditioning system during a routine inspection and had seen sparks but no flames.
 
The Times, quoting Mark Mangooni, Ethiopian Airlines' senior manager in Britain, did not make clear when this had happened. Reuters could not reach Mangooni for comment.
 
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.
 
Britain's Sky News television channel said it had learnt that some 100 Thomson passengers had called the airline's cancelation line asking to know if they were booked to fly on a Dreamliner. Sky News did not give a source for the information and Thomson declined to comment.
 
The Heathrow and Manchester incidents were a new blow for Boeing after the entire global fleet of Dreamliners had to be grounded for three months, ending in April, after one high-tech battery caught fire and another overheated.
 
Boeing shares closed down 4.7 percent at $101.87 on Friday, knocking $3.8 billion off the company's market capitalization.
 
“Smoke throughout fuselage”
 
Several airlines said they were continuing to operate their Dreamliners, including United Continental, the Polish airline LOT, Japan Airlines and ANA, the world's biggest operator of the 787.
 
Heathrow briefly closed both its runways to deal with Friday's fire, causing delays and cancelations, but was back to normal operations on Saturday.
 
Footage from the scene of the fire showed apparent scorching on the fuselage near the tail. The Dreamliner's two batteries are in compartments located low down near the front and middle of the plane.
 
The Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner has been moved to a hangar at Heathrow where it is under technical investigation, the AAIB said, adding that the initial witness and physical evidence showed there had been smoke throughout the fuselage.
 
The AAIB said the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), representing the state of design and manufacture, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Ethiopia, representing the state of registry and operator, had been invited to appoint accredited representatives to participate in the investigation.
 
The AAIB also said it had also invited the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, Ethiopian Airlines, the European Aviation Safety Agency and Britain's Civil Aviation Authority to participate as advisers to the investigation.
 
Boeing will be keen to reassure airlines, travelers and investors over the cause of the fire as quickly as possible but under aviation rules it will be up to investigators to decide how much information to release and when.
 
Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa's top five carriers, said it would continue to fly its Dreamliner fleet. It has ordered a total of 10 Dreamliners, of which four have been delivered.
 
“After a normal flight from Addis to London, passengers disembarked in the morning and the aircraft was cleaned. It was towed to a remote parking area as usual and parked properly with all internal and external powers switched off,” said an official from the airline's public relations department.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid