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Boeing shares dive after another Dreamliner catches fire at Heathrow


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Heathrow shut after another Dreamliner catches fire


Shares in Boeing took a nosedive on Friday after one of its Dreamliner 787 aircrafts caught fire while parked at Heathrow, closing the airport.


The incident, on a plane flown by Ethiopia Airlines, comes less than six months after Boeing was temporarily forced to ground the new plane, amid concerns over the safety of its batteries.


The fuel-efficient lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the Dreamliner design overheated on two different jets, forcing Boeing to modify the planes before they were allowed to fly again.


The American aerospace giant put more insulation around the batteries, encasing it in a steel box, and changing the circuitry. At the time, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ president and chief executive Ray Conner described it as a “comprehensive and permanent solution…which will ensure that even if a battery fails, there is no impact to the airplane and no possibility of fire”.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the Dreamliner for take-off again in April.


It is not known whether the Heathrow fire was caused by a battery overheating, by some other technical fault on the Dreamliner, or something else altogether.


Boeing said it had staff on the ground at Heathrow airport trying to establish what happened. “We’re working to fully understand and address this,” a spokesman said.


However, the incident immediately reignited concerns that the aircraft might be grounded once and for all. Shares in the company plummeted almost 7pc, pushing Boeing’s share price below the $100 threshold. It was down 77.14 to $99.74 in lunchtime trading.


Any problem with the Dreamliner’s battery, or the discovery of a new technical fault with the aircraft, stands to cause Boeing severe damage. Grounding its plans costs the aerospace business $50m a week, because of the lost commercial flights. However, it would lose considerably more than that if persistent problems forced it to give up on the Dreamliner.


The US company has invested more than $20bn (£12.8bn) in the 787, which made its debut in late 2011 after a three-year delay. Its ground-breaking design and materials sought to create a more fuel-efficient plane.


Boeing said in February that it remained confident in the 787 and had more than 800 outstanding orders for the jet, including from Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.



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