Probe begins after Boeing Dreamliner fire

Authorities launch investigation to find cause of plane fire at Heathrow in latest incident to hit troubled model.

    The lightweight new plane suffered a series of battery fires earlier this year [AP]
    The lightweight new plane suffered a series of battery fires earlier this year [AP]

    Investigators have started work to establish the cause of a fire on a Boeing Dreamliner at London's Heathrow airport, a new setback for the high-tech model after it was grounded at the start of the year over battery problems.

    "The aircraft has been moved to a secure hangar at Heathrow and the investigation has begun," a spokesman for Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Saturday.

    The AAIB will lead the investigation, he said, working alongside the US Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines, the carrier operating the plane.

    The fire broke out on the 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 was no official indication of what could have caused the fire.

    Flights to continue

    Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines said it would continue to operate its fleet of Dreamliners.

    "We have not grounded any of our aircraft," the carrier said in a statement on Saturday

    "The incident at Heathrow happened while the plane was on the ground and had been for more than eight hours and was not related to flight safety."

    Asked whether the airline has determined the cause of the fire, Ethiopian Airlines said: "There is no new development. No safety issue. The incident is being investigated to determine cause of smoke."

    India's aviation regulator said it was closely following developments after the fire and was awaiting to see the cause of the incident before taking any action. State-run Air India has seven Dreamliner planes.

    Separately, engineers from Britain's Thomson Airways were inspecting their own Boeing Dreamliner after it had to turn back during a flight on Friday from Manchester in England to Sanford in Florida because of an unspecified technical issue.

    Thomson Airways is one of six European airlines owned by TUI Travel, the world's largest tour operator.

    The lightweight new plane suffered a series of battery fires earlier this year, causing it to be grounded until Boeing came up with a fix. It was not clear if the fire was related to the battery.

    Ethiopian Airlines was the first company to resume Dreamliner flights after a three-month grounding due to lithium-ion battery problems.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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