A FIRE on a parked Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane brought Heathrow Airport to a standstill as both runways were closed for 90 minutes yesterday.
No passengers were on board the Ethiopian Airlines plane and no-one was injured.
However, it is further embarrassment after 50 Dreamliners worldwide were grounded earlier in the year because of malfunctions with the plane’s lithium-ion batteries.
Meanwhile, a second Dreamliner heading to Florida was forced to return to Manchester Airport yesterday, because of a “technical issue” not related to the fire at Heathrow. The cause of the incidents were not known last night.
Emergency services were called to the fire at Heathrow at 4:30pm yesterday.
The disruption caused delays and cancellations to a handful of flights to Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
A Boeing spokesman said: “We’re aware of the event. We have Boeing personnel on the ground at Heathrow and are working to fully understand and address this.” American aviation officials said they were investigating.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was in contact with Boeing, and the US National Transportation Safety Board said it will send a representative to assist the investigation of the fire.
Ethiopian Airlines was the first airline to resume using the 787 after the groundings, with a flight on 27 April from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to Nairobi, in Kenya.
Boeing shares fell sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after news broke of the Heathrow fire.
Thomson Airways announced that a flight to Florida had returned to Manchester as a “precautionary measure” after a “technical issue”. In a statement, the company said: “Passengers have disembarked and our dedicated team of engineers are now inspecting the aircraft.
“Our customers will be moved to an alternative aircraft to ensure they get away on their holiday as soon as possible.”
A spokesman added that there were no plans to ground their Dreamliners and that it was “very much business as usual”.
The Dreamliner troubles came just days after Thomson had its first flights with the aircraft from Glasgow, Gatwick and Manchester.
Thomson Airways became the first British carrier to operate the ultra-green aircraft earlier this week, and is taking delivery of eight of the planes.
The Dreamliner is intended to use 20 per cent less fuel and also reduce the effects of jet-lag, according to its manufacturers.