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Monday, July 15, 2013

► UNITED KINGDOM: Fire aboard Ethiopian 787 parked at London Heathrow; carrier to continue 787 ops despite incident.

Ethiopian Airlines logoAn Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Boeing 787-8 (MSN 34744 | ET-AOP) has been grounded at London Heathrow airport following an on-board fire which broke out while the aircraft was parked at a remote stand on Friday, July 12, 2013. The aircraft was empty when the incident was observed.

The aircraft, which was conveniently parked at remote stand 592 having arrived from Addis Ababa at 06h30L the same morning, was scheduled to operate as flight ET700 back to the Ethiopian capital, leaving at 21h00. However, according to the UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), at approximately 15h50Z, ET-AOP suffered "an event" which, initial witness and physical evidence shows, resulted in smoke throughout the fuselage and extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage. 

The airport's fire fighting department responded in kind, dousing the burning area with fire-retardant foam. However, the incident did result in a disruption to local traffic at Heathrow. 

Firefighters respond to ET-AOP incident at Heathrow
Firefighters respond to ET-AOP incident at Heathrow (AFP)

Firefighters respond to ET-AOP incident at Heathrow
ET-AOP at Heathrow (AFP)

Firefighters respond to ET-AOP incident at Heathrow
ET-AOP at Heathrow
The aircraft is currently located in a hangar at London Heathrow. 

There has been extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft, and the initial investigation is likely to take several days. However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship.  

The Chief Inspector of the AAIB has ordered that an investigation into this serious incident be carried out, to be assisted by the the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), USA, representing the State of Design and Manufacture, and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA), representing the State of Registry and Operator, along with advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Ethiopian Airlines. 

The AAIB has also invited the participation of the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) as advisors to the investigation. This team, under the direction of the AAIB, has initiated the technical investigation into the event. 

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