July 12, 2013
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 was severely damaged by fire today at London Heathrow Airport, although the fire does not appear to be connected with the lithium-ion battery problems which grounded all 787s earlier this year.
The fire, understood to have broken out shortly before 5 p.m., occurred while the aircraft was parked on a remote stand in the western part of the airport prior to the scheduled 9 p.m. departure of the airline’s flight ET701 to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
The aircraft had been parked at the airport for 8 hr. prior to the fire.
Images of the incident indicate that the blaze occurred in the aft fuselage, close to the rear galley and crew rest area near doors L3 and R3. Evidence of charring is visible in the crown section at the base of the fin close to the structural junction of the aft fuselage Section 47 with the mid-fuselage section.
It is not yet known where the fire originated, or the extent of the structural damage inside the fuselage. There were no passengers on board and Heathrow officials have said there are no reported injuries.
The aircraft involved is ET-AOP (L/N44), which was the first 787 to restart operations in mid-April following the fleet-wide grounding.
The incident forced Heathrow to be closed and disrupted flights were diverted to Luton, Stansted and Gatwick airport while emergency services tackled the blaze, news of which prompted Boeing’s share price to temporarily tumble 7%. Operations resumed again at Heathrow around 6 p.m.
The U.K.’s Air Accident Investigation Branch will investigate this incident. The NTSB is also sending a representative to London to assist in the investigation of the fire.
In another incident earlier today, a Thompson-operated 787 enroute from the U.K. to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida returned to Manchester Airport after dumping fuel over the Irish Sea. The cause of the turn-back has not yet been revealed.