Heathrow reopens after Dreamliner fire

2013-07-12 22:48

Boeing dreamliner fire shuts Heathrow

2013-07-12 22:05

An Ethiopia Airlines’s Boeing Dreamliner caught fire at Heathrow, causing the airport to shut both its runways for more than an hour, disrupting 80 arrivals and departures and causing delays of up to three hours - leading to the cancellation of at least 27 flights. The cause of the fire is as yet unknown.WATCH

London - Thousands of travellers were forced to make alternative travel arrangements on Friday after a fire broke out on board an empty Boeing Dreamliner parked at Heathrow Airport.

BBC news reports, the airport closed both its runways for an hour-and-a-half, halting an estimated 80 incoming and outgoing flights, as emergency crew put out the blaze on board the jet. No passengers were on board at the time. The runway reopened at 18:00.

"The airports runways are now fully open following an earlier fire on board an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft which the airport's emergency services attended,” a Heathrow spokesperson said.

Passengers have been advised to check the status of their flights with the airlines.

Many passengers are reportedly livid as they had to queue at Terminal 4 to rebook later flights, only to be told to find overnight accommodation as seats were booked up.

Engineers from Chicago-based Boeing were investigating the incident on the ground and a representative of the US National Transportation Safety Board travelled to London to assist the inquiry into the fire’s cause.

Ethiopian Airlines said smoke was detected from the aircraft after it had been parked at Heathrow for more than eight hours.

While no injuries were reported, the incident has further dented the already tarnished image of Boeing Dreamliner.

Fifty Dreamliners worldwide were grounded in January after malfunctions with the plane's lithium-ion batteries.

Boeing modified the jets with new batteries and flights resumed in April.

A Boeing spokesperson said, "We're aware of the event. We have Boeing personnel on the ground at Heathrow and are working to fully understand and address this."

Meanwhile, Thomson Airways said one of its Dreamliners travelling to Florida returned to Manchester Airport as a precautionary measure, not connected to the Heathrow fire.

Thomson, which became the first British carrier to operate the aircraft earlier this week, and is taking delivery of eight of the planes, said the plane had "experienced a technical issue".

British Airways is due to take delivery of the first two of its 24 Dreamliners.

Virgin Atlantic said it "remains committed" to taking on the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.

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