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Fire discovered on Boeing Dreamliner minutes after flight lands

January 07, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan
  • Firefighters at Logan International Airport put out fire on 787 Dreamliner.
Firefighters at Logan International Airport put out fire on 787 Dreamliner. (Boston Fire Department…)

A Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner passenger jet was found to be on fire after arriving at Boston's Logan International Airport from Tokyo.

The fire was discovered at 10:30 EST by a mechanic who saw smoke in the cabin once all passengers from the Japan Air Lines Co. flight were unloaded at the gate 15 minutes earlier, said airport spokesman Richard Walsh.

Firefighters used infrared equipment to determine the source of the smoke and found a strong heat signature in the underbelly of the aircraft, Walsh said.

“It was in the area where the auxiliary power unit is located,” he said.

A second fire erupted after a battery exploded, Walsh said.

The fires were fought for 30 to 40 minutes by about 40 personnel belonging to the Massport Fire Rescue Department and Boston Fire Department. The job involved 15 vehicles.

There were no injuries, but a firefighter was treated for skin irritation likely caused by the battery explosion, Walsh said.

“We are aware of the event and working with our customer,” Loretta Gunter, a Boeing spokeswoman, said in a statement. “That’s all we can offer at this time.”

The Dreamliner, a twin-aisle aircraft that seats 210 to 290 passengers, is the first large passenger jet with more than half its structure made of composite materials (carbon fibers meshed together with epoxy) instead of aluminum sheets. Major parts for the plane are assembled elsewhere and then shipped to Boeing’s facilities in Everett, Wash., where they are "snapped together" in three days, compared with a month the traditional way.

The program has had numerous problems over the years. The first Dreamliner was delivered in late 2011, which was more than three years late because of design problems and supplier issues. Recently, the much-anticipated plane has run into another bout of turbulence with concerns about its safety.

In December, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections of fuel line connectors on Dreamliners because of risks of leaks and possible fires.

On the same day, a United Airlines Dreamliner flight from Houston to Newark, N.J., was diverted to New Orleans after an electrical problem popped up mid-flight. After accepting delivery of the aircraft just a month earlier, Qatar Air later said it had grounded a Dreamliner for the same problem that United experienced.

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