Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fire breaks out on Boeing Dreamliner

A fire has broken out on a Japan Airlines Dreamliner 787 in the latest mechanical problem for Boeing's new aircraft.

A battery found in the underbelly of the plane overheated and caught fire while parked at Logan International airport, Boston, filling the cabin with heavy smoke.

Passengers has just left the plane 15 minutes before the blaze broke out following a flight from Toyko.

It is the latest problem for Dreamliner after production delays and other technical problems.

"Smoke was initially discovered by maintenance staff in the rear end of the cabin, and confirmed by another maintenance staff who also detected smoke outside the aircraft," Carol Anderson a spokeswoman for Japan Airlines said told the BBC.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said, 'We are aware of the event and are working with our customer.'

The National Transportation Safety board is sending an investigator to look into the fire.

The 787 relies heavily on electrical power to drive onboard systems that in other jet models are run by air pressure generated by the engines.

There were three other mechanical hiccups with Dreamliners in December.

A United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, made an emergency landing after it appeared that one of its power generators failed on December 4.

Qatar Airways said it had grounded one of its three 787 jets because of the same problem United had experienced on December 13.

United said that a second 787 in its fleet had developed electrical issues on December 17.

There are currently 13 Dreamliners in service.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a television interview that these problems were "normal squawks" that happen whenever new planes are put into service, see previous story.

In 2007 before its introduction, Dan Rather reported that analysts (including an engineer who had been fired by Boeing) said the Dreamliner's carbon fiber frame was likely to emit poisonous fumes "when ignited," a claim Boeing officials refuted.

--TravelMole UK with Gretchen Kelly, TravelMole US

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