Investigation launched after Boeing 787 Dreamliner fire closed Heathrow

Emergency services can be seen surrounding the Ethiopian Airlines planes at Heathrow.
Emergency services can be seen surrounding the Ethiopian Airlines planes at Heathrow. Photo:

An air accident investigation is under way after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire at Heathrow Airport.

ITV News Correspondent Richard Edgar reports:

The aircraft caught fire while on a remote parking stand shortly after 4.30pm. It was not due for departure and had been on the stand for at least eight hours according to the airline. Nobody was on board at the time of the incident and there were no injuries.

Runways were closed to all flights for an hour and a half while emergency crews dealt with the incident, causing diversions and long delays for passengers.

Meanwhile, Thomson Airways said a Dreamliner flight from Manchester to Florida had to be diverted back to the UK earlier today due to a "technical issue".

The Thomson Dreamliner at Manchester airport.
The Thomson Dreamliner at Manchester airport.

Boeing temporarily withdrew the Dreamliner from service earlier this year for modifications after concerns that batteries on board could cause fires.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch spokesman said: "We are aware of the incident at Heathrow and have sent a team to investigate."

A Boeing spokesman 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."

Boeing shares fell sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after news broke of the incident.

Burned power unit battery from a Boeing 787 in a previous incident.
Burned power unit battery from a Boeing 787 in a previous incident. Credit: National Transportation Safety Board

Thomson Airways became the first British carrier to operate the Dreamliner earlier this week, and is taking delivery of eight of the planes.

The company had hoped to take delivery of the first of its 787s in time to start Dreamliner operations in May.

But a series of battery problems led to the grounding of the plane earlier this year while modifications were carried out.

Thomson had to scrap plans to use the ultra-green aircraft in May and June, and only received its first plane in June.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane at Heathrow.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane at Heathrow.

British Airways is taking delivery of the first two of its 24 Dreamliners, while Virgin Atlantic said it "remains committed" to taking the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September next year.

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said: "Virgin Atlantic is in regular communication with Boeing to understand all the technical issues around the aircraft and the airline remains committed to taking delivery of 16 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from autumn 2014.

"We are confident that Boeing and the relevant authorities are working hard to ensure that the appropriate action is being taken."