Dreamliner catches fire after landing in Boston
SUN-TIMES STAFF, WIRES January 7, 2013 12:02PM
A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet aircraft is surrounded by emergency vehicles while parked at a terminal E gate at Logan International Airport in Boston as a fire chief looks into the cargo hold Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. A small electrical fire filled the cabin of the JAL aircraft with smoke Monday morning about 15 minutes after it landed in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Updated: February 9, 2013 6:15AM
A fire that occurred onboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Monday is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Adminstration and the National Transportation Safety Board Government, regulators said Monday, the latest of recent misshaps with Chicago-based Boeing’s next generation airplane.
The fire filled the cabin of the plane with smoke Monday minutes after passengers disembarked following a non-stop flight from Tokyo.
The Massachusetts Port Authority’s fire chief, Bob Donahue, said the fire at Boston’s Logan Airport began in a battery pack for the plane’s auxiliary power unit, which runs the jet’s electrical systems when it’s not getting power from its engines.
Fire crews had the fire out in about 20 minutes, he said. There was a flare-up later when a battery exploded, he added.
The flight landed normally at about 10:15 a.m. with 173 passengers and 11 crew members.
The 787 is Boeing’s newest plane, and the first was delivered in late 2011. In November 2010, a test flight had to make an emergency landing after an in-flight electrical fire. The fire delayed flight tests for several weeks while Boeing investigated.
Last month, a United Airlines 787 flying from Houston to Newark, N.J., diverted to New Orleans because of an electrical problem with a power distribution panel, and Qatar Airways grounded one of its 787s because of the same issue.
The problems are small issues that are “part and parcel of a brand new aircraft that has been launched,” Morningstar Inc. aerospace and defense industry analyst Neal Dihora said Monday. “I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary. I don’t think it really inpacts Boeing’s long-term opportunity with the 787.”
Boeing has delivered 49 787s, including seven to Japan Airlines. Another 799 have been ordered by airlines worldwide.
The 787 uses two lithium ion batteries — including one for the auxiliary power unit, according to a Boeing guide for firefighters dealing with the 787.
The rechargeable batteries, widely used in consumer devices, have some pilots worried because batteries being shipped as cargo are suspected to have caused or contributed to the severity of fires in cargo planes.
When Boeing proposed using the batteries in the 787, the FAA issued special rules, including a requirement that they be designed to prevent overheating.
Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said the company was aware of the fire and was working with JAL.
Boeing’s stock fell $1.55 on Monday, or 2 percent, to $76.13.
Contributing: Business Reporter Francine Knowles, AP