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Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner faces no immediate threat of grounding as investigators continue a probe into last week’s fire aboard a plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, Europe’s top aviation safety body said.
“It’s too early to say if the aircraft could be grounded,” Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for the Cologne, Germany-based European Aviation Safety Agency, said in an e-mail. EASA is providing advice to the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch that’s leading the probe into the July 12 incident in London.
Dreamliner operators spanning ANA Holdings Inc., the jet’s first customer, to Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. have continued regular services as investigators seek to establish the cause of the fire at Heathrow airport. Honeywell International Inc., maker of an emergency beacon situated close the site of the blaze, said yesterday it was assisting in the inquiry, as are Boeing, U.S. safety experts and Ethiopian Airlines, which continues to operate its three other 787s.
“We are prepared to take action in our area of responsibility in case it is demonstrated that there is an unsafe condition, which is not the case so far,” EASA’s Fouda said. “It is too early to draw any conclusion.”
Boeing is working to revive the reputation of the 787, grounded worldwide earlier this year after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two aircraft. Shares of the manufacturer, which fell more than 7 percent on news of the fire, closed 2.6 percent below the pre-incident level in New York trading yesterday.
Ethiopian has seen no recurrence of the 787 problem in its other planes, the Addis Ababa-based carrier, the second-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, said today in response to question.
Dreamliners operated by Thomson Airways, which returned a 787 to Manchester last week in an unrelated incident, are also flying as normal, spokeswoman Grace Jones said today.
Aircraft at LOT Polish Airlines SA — the model’s first European customer — are likewise being employed according to the planned schedule, spokeswoman Barbara Pijanowska said.
The U.K. AAIB, which is preparing to take the investigation into a sixth day tomorrow, said July 13 that an initial review showed no link between the fire and the earlier grounding.
GS Yuasa Corp., the Kyoto, Japan-based maker of batteries involved in the prior probe, has not been asked to cooperate, spokesman Hiroharu Nakano said yesterday. Thales SA, which supplied the batteries to Boeing and also provides electrical power conversion technology on the 787, isn’t involved either this time, spokesman Alexandre Perra said in an e-mail.
Boeing had delivered 66 Dreamliners to 11 airlines and a leasing company through June, including six to United. The 787, which has a list price of $206.8 million in its cheapest version, has won 930 firm orders.
Editors: Chris Jasper and Sara Marley.
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