Heathrow Dreamliner Fire: “No Evidence” of Lithium-Ion Battery Problem
The U.K. Accidents Investigation Branch said “there is no evidence” that lithium-ion batteries were involved in the fire that occurred on a parked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday. The agency further indicated that the cause of the fire remained unknown but termed it a “serious incident.”
In a four-page statement Saturday, the investigators said that the fire had caused “extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage” and “smoke throughout the fuselage.”
The agency went to great lengths to distance the lithium-ion batteries from the incident, saying, “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.”
It is likely to take several days to make initial determinations, the investigators also said.
The statement was good news for Boeing, because the airplane manufacturer and U.S. regulators have repeatedly described the new design for the Dreamliner’s advanced lithium-ion batteries as “failsafe” and that the redesign would eliminate the possibility of a fire caused by battery failure of any kind. The worldwide fleet of Dreamliners was grounded on January 16, 2013 after two incidents on 787s operated by ANA and Japan Airlines where the high-tech batteries burned, in one case causing an emergency landing after smoke started to enter the cabin.
Ethiopian Airlines, which has a total of four Dreamliners in its fleet, said it would continue to operate the three remaining 787s because the fire had occurred after the plane had been parked on stand for over eight hours and “was not related to flight safety.”
The 12 other airlines that operate the Dreamliner also said they were continuing to operate the headline-prone aircraft.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)