Boeing 787 Dreamliner catches fire at London Heathrow airport


LONDON - Boeing's ill-fated 787 Dreamliner was involved in another incident Friday when a jet caught fire at London's Heathrow airport, forcing the closure of both runways for more than an hour.

There were no passengers on board the Ethiopian Airlines plane, which was parked away from terminal buildings and no reported injuries, but news of the incident caused shares in the Chicago-based manufacturer to tumble.

In a separate development, another Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Britain's Thomson Airways flying to Florida from northwest England was forced to return to Britain due to technical issues as a precaution on Friday, the airline said. 

The aircraft type has been plagued by problems with its batteries. Regulators in the U.S. and Japan temporarily grounded the Dreamliner earlier this year amid fears of fires linked to the batteries.

However, David Learmount, aviation expert and reporter for Flight International magazine, told the U.K.'s Sky News that it was not clear if the same problem was to blame for Friday's blaze. He said fire damage was visible to the roof of the rear of the aircraft whereas the battery compartments are located under the cabin floor.

Pictures showed the plane involved in Friday's fire covered in fire-retardant foam. 

An airport spokesman said: "We can confirm there has been an on-board internal fire involving an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft and the airport's emergency services are in attendance.

"The aircraft was parked on a remote parking stand. There were no passengers on board and there are no reported injuries at this time."

In a statement posted on Twitter, Boeing said: "We’re aware of the 787 event @HeathrowAirport and have Boeing personnel there. We're working to fully understand and address this."

The aircraft was not blocking either runway, but with all the airport's fire crews tacking the Boeing 787 incident, authorities were forced to suspend all departures and arrivals because of safety rules.

Although the runways later reopened, major ongoing delays were expected for travelers using the airport, which is the world's busiest in terms of international passenger traffic.

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