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UPDATING: Ethiopian Boeing 787 Involved In Incident at London Heathrow

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Written by: Jason Rabinowitz
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Image showing the fire damage to the Ethiopian 787


Photo showing the rear galley on an Ethiopian 787, the approximate area where a fire occurred in London. Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-LindgrenPhoto showing the rear of the passenger cabin on an Ethiopian 787, the approximate area where a fire occurred in London. Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Photos showing the rear galley and rear of the passenger cabin on an Ethiopian 787, the approximate area where a fire occurred in London. Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

UPDATE 7-13-13 12:45pm

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch this afternoon has issued a press release with addition details into Friday’s Ethiopian 787 fire.

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 AAIB stated that the aircraft is now located in a hangar at Heathrow. The NTSB,  as well as the Civil Aviation Authority of Ethiopia will be assisting the AAIB. The AAIB also added that “the initial witness and physical evidence shows that this event resulted in smoke throughout the fuselage and extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage. “

UPDATE- 7-13-13 10:20am

On Saturday morning, Ethiopian Airlines released a statement via Facebook providing some further details into the circumstances leading up to the fire on board their Boeing 787 at London’s Heathrow Airport.

ET-AOP landed at Heathrow on 12 July 2013 after normal flight from ADD to LON. Passengers were disembarked in the morning and aircraft was cleaned. It was towed to a remote parking area as usual and parked properly with all internal and external powers switched off. After more than 8 hours smoke was detected. The incident is still under investigation.

It is still unclear how exactly smoke was detected on board, whether it was by personnel on the aircraft or by mechanical smoke detector. A possible cause for the fire has also not yet been released. However, with all internal and exterior power sources switched off, this fire may very well have been started by an external source non-aircraft related system.

The NTSB has also released the following statement:

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to assist in the investigation of a fire that occurred yesterday aboard a parked Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Heathrow Airport, London, England. NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward has been appointed as the traveling U.S. accredited representative. Ms. Ward will be accompanied by NTSB airplane systems investigators and representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. The investigation is being conducted by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the United Kingdom, which will release all information.



News broke on Friday afternoon that an Ethiopian Boeing 787, registration ET-AOP, “caught fire” according to several reports. The aircraft, which was at a gate after arriving 8 hours earlier and unoccupied at the time, was seen with a small amount of smoke. The aircraft was doused by fire retardant foam by at least three emergency vehicles. At this time, there is no information as to the cause of the fire, or the extent of the damage.

Ethiopian 787 at LHR

Images appear to show fire damage to the top of the fuselage near the tail section of the 787. Such damage is inconsistent with the fire damage caused by the malfunctioning battery system that caused the 787 grounding. The composite skin of the 787 melts at a minimum temperature of 649 degrees F, according to various reports after the initial battery fire. It is possible that this fire may have been caused by a fire in the rear galley or crew rest (Jon Ostrower of the Wall Street Journal has reported that the Ethiopian 787s do not have a crew rest area), though nothing is confirmed at this point. Airport operations have now resumed.

CLICK>> Exclusive Photos: Ethiopian Airlines Maintenance Hangar

Aircraft circle and divert as the runways at LHR are currently closed

Ethiopian Airlines has released a statement, the text of which is contained below.

Today on Friday, 12 July 2013, smoke was detected from Ethiopian Airlines B787 aircraft with registration number ET-AOP, which was parked at London Heathrow airport for more than eight hours. The aircraft was empty when the incident was observed. The cause of the incident is under investigation by all concerned. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline and a member of Star Alliance since 2011 registering an average growth of 25% in the past seven years.

NYCAviation was on board the delivery flight of the first Ethiopian 787 last year. Check out the pictures from the flight here.

About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz



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  • Zayne Savall

    Boeing can’t seem to catch a break… Hopefully it turns out to be a separate incident.

  • Gusti Fikri Noor

    Oh my Godness. Battery problem (again)? I hope this incident is the last for Boeing 787.

  • If this is a battery related problem, Boeing needs to change their chemistry to a safer Li-Ion chemistry. Its possible, I drive a Li-Ion electric battery car and its safe. Boeing can make their Li-Ion batteries safe too.

    • booklikeabook

      Yeah, I’m sure that would solve the problem.

  • Nihilist

    that section of the 787, is where those problem battery’s are. these high storage lithium can get really hot. nice fix Boeing…

  • Patrick Harris-Worthington

    If it’s a battery issue, someone carried them back to the galley, and set them on fire there

    • booklikeabook


      • Patrick Harris-Worthington

        The fire damage is on the wrong bloody end to be a battery issue

  • Shane mccarthy

    the only electrical equipment at that location in the fuseage is the remote power distribution unit or just under vertical stabiliser are two APU generator units.

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  • wahtoyah

    As the Ohio Players said, Fi – – yur.

  • taffmaff

    Ive said from the beginning, as a licensed pilot, there is NO WAY I would fly aboard that plane!


    • Wong Wei

      thanks for your help

  • Lucio

    Sabotage by AIRBUS, BOMBARDIER, EMBRAER, etc!!!!