Ethiopian Airline' Dreamliner investigated after Heathrow fire

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By on Monday 15th Jul, 2013 at 13:40

Ethiopian Airlines will carry on flying its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after one caught fire at London's Heathrow airport on Friday.

UK investigators say they have found no immediate connection between the heat damage on an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 and the aircraft's batteries.

Experts are now trying to find the cause of the blaze, which took place months after the aircraft was grounded worldwide over a battery problem. The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport is expected to lead the inquiry, with Boeing, the US Federal Aviation Administration, the US-based National Transportation Safety Board and Ethiopian Airlines also taking part.

Heathrow's runways were closed for 90 minutes on Friday, and some evening flights delayed by more than six hours, according to the BBC. Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of four Dreamliners in 2012.

The company said its plane had been parked at Heathrow for eight hours before smoke was spotted. "We have not grounded any of our aircraft," the carrier said in a statement. "The incident at Heathrow happened while the plane was on the ground... and was not related to flight safety."

The Dreamliner has been moved to a special hangar away from the terminals to allow the investigation to take place.

The aircraft sustained "extensive heat damage" in the upper aft fuselage, as well as smoke throughout the fuselage, says the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
But it points out that the main and auxiliary power unit batteries - located in the forward fuselage and just behind the wing - are "remote" from the area of heat damage.

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