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Yet more fire and smoke hits two different Dreamliners

July 30, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A fire broke out last week in the oven of an Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet in mid-flight, frightening passengers but causing no serious damage.

A couple of days later, Qatar Airways said it had removed one of its Dreamliners from service because of a “minor” technical issue. While neither the airline nor Boeing would comment further, Reuters mentioned reports that the aircraft had been grounded for days “after smoke was seen near an electrical panel”.

The Air India fire was reportedly confined to the oven and had nothing to do with theMystic-Place-Bangkok-www.mysticbangkokhotel serious lithium-ion battery issues that in January led US aviation officials to ground Dreamliners for months.

Neither is it as serious as the fire that broke out on an empty Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow Airport on 12 July 2013. That fire is suspected to have caused by yet another battery overheating – this one a lithium-manganese dioxide battery powering the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).

If the fire had started over the ocean, the result could have been catastrophic. The blaze was in a difficult-to-reach space where fires can’t be extinguished by the plane’s automatic fire extinguishers, UK regulators say. Only one-third of airliners with such hidden fires can be expected to land safely.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has instructed all airlines to remove or inspect ELTs on 787 Dreamliners.

The Qatar Airways 787 grounding is more perplexing. A Reuters report pointed out that Web-tracking service Flightaware shows that the Qatar Airways aircraft, registered as A7-BCB, has not flown since last Sunday, “an unusually long downtime for a long-haul jet designed to save on fuel bills”.

Qatar Airways confirmed an aircraft had been taken out of service, but said no flights had been cancelled as a result.

Reuters quoted “two people familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified” as saying smoke had been reported near an electrical compartment while the jet was on the ground in Doha. In 201o, a failure in a similar bay caused a fire during a Dreamliner test flight.

Two Japanese-made lithium-ion batteries, made for the Dreamliner’s electrical system, overheated and emitted fumes in January, prompting a three-month grounding of the plane. Since then, Boeing has installed a fire-proof case and other fixes.

Written by : Peter Needham

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