Fears that a fire on a Boeing 787 at Heathrow last Friday could provoke wide concern among passengers appear unfounded.
Heathrow’s runways were closed after smoke filled a parked Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner. The UK Air Accident Investigation Branch subsequently reported “extensive heat damage” in part of the rear fuselage.
By coincidence, a Thomson Airways 787 bound for Orlando the same day turned back because of a technical problem soon after take-off from Manchester. The incidents were linked in media reports.
Thomson’s long-haul 787 operation only began last week. The world’s Dreamliners returned to the air in May after being grounded for three months because of a risk of its batteries overheating.
Thomson Holidays’ Facebook page drew comments from nervous fliers, with one saying: “I don’t want to fly on that plane.” But
Thomson stressed: “We’ve not seen any increase in call volume.”
Agents also reported no evidence of customer concern. Emma Palfry, sales consultant at Miss Ellies Travel in Manchester, said: “People are not worried about it.”
Investigators announced “no evidence” of the Ethiopian aircraft’s batteries being to blame and appeared to focus on an emergency transmitter which is not specific to the Dreamliner.
Thomson declined to identify the cause of its 787 turning back but said: “None of the parts replaced were battery related.”
British Airways took delivery of its first 787s last month and a spokesman said: “We’ve every intention of putting them into service on September 1.”
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