Flights were suspended at London’s Heathrow Airport [LHR] at 16:30 BST due to a fire on an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The airport was re-opened at about 18:00 BST today .
The aircraft involved is ET-AOP, which is the first 787 Dreamliner to return to service after the world-wide grounding of the aircraft. No passengers were on board at the time of the fire and officials are trying to determine the cause. Photos show that the fire was in the rear of the aircraft with noticeable damage to the top of the fuselage. Due to the location of the fire, it appears that this is not related to the lithium-ion batteries, which have plagued the Dreamliner.
According to Sky News, the aircraft was parked at a remote stand and was there for more than eight hours before smoke was detected. The plane was scheduled to be used for flight ET701 to Addis Ababa at 9pm.
Ethiopian released a statement saying, “Smoke was detected from Ethiopian Airlines B787 aircraft with registration number ET-AOP, which was parked at London Heathrow airport for more than eight hours. The aircraft was empty when the incident was observed. The cause of the incident is under investigation by all concerned.”
Via Twitter, Boeing stated, “We’re aware of the 787 event @HeathrowAirport and have Boeing personnel there. We’re working to fully understand and address this.” It is likely that Boeing will work with multiple agencies [including the NTSB] to determine the cause of the aircraft quickly and make sure this was just an isolated incident.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an Ethiopian spokesman stated that, “We are investigating the cause with all officials involved, including Boeing and Heathrow.” The WSJ is also reporting that Boeing stock has gone down 7% since the new 787 fire was announced.
It appears that the fire on the aircraft happened at one of the best locations possible at LHR. Aviation Week is stating that the fire, “could not have happened any closer to Heathrow’s airport fire station.”
Unrelated to the Ethiopian Boeing 787 fire at Heathrow, a Thomson Airways Dreamliner [Flight 126] heading to Standford, FL from Manchester had to turn back due to a technical issue. All the passengers were able to return safely and officials are inspecting the cause of the issue. The airline stated, “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.”