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Boeing Dreamliner catches fire in Bostons Logan Airport
2013/1/8 8:33:34

Boeings highly-anticipated new 787 Dreamliner aircraft has suffered another in a series of mishaps with electrical systems.

On Monday, an electrical fire broke out in an empty Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Bostons Logan International Airport following a non-stop flight from Tokyo.

Matthew Brelis, director of Media Relations for Massport, which manages the airport, says the flight landed at 10 a.m. and arrived at the gate five minutes later. The passengers and crew deplaned.

At 10:37 a.m., cleaning crews reported smoke in the cabin. A fire crew arrived within minutes, he said.

Massport Fire Chief Bob Donahue said it appears that a battery that powers the planes electric systems when the engines are turned off had exploded.

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The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to Boston to examine the plane. The investigators were expected to confer and decide as early as Tuesday whether to pursue a boarder investigation.

"Were looking into this incident," says NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss. "We are sending folks up there to Logan to look at the airplane."

The Federal Aviation Administration is also looking into the incident, said spokeswoman Laura Brown.

Boeing spokesman Doug Adler said the Seattle-based company is trying to determine the cause of the fire. "We are aware of the incident and were working with the airline," he said.

Japan Airlines, which began the nonstop service between Boston and Tokyos Narita Airport on the new plane in April, did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

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Mondays fire is the latest in a string of problems reported with Boeings newest airplane, which has earned much buzz in the aviation industry for being lighter and more fuel-efficient. The aircraft also relies more heavily on electrical power than other jets that use air pressure generated by the engines.

A United flight Dec. 4 from Houston to Newark made an emergency landing in New Orleans after a power generator failed, and a flight Dec. 17 also developed electrical issues. Qatar Airlines grounded one of its three Dreamliners on Dec. 13 because of concerns about the electronics.

Separately, NTSB made two urgent safety recommendations Sept. 14 to repair General Electric engines called GEnex-1b and -2B that are on Dreamliners and other planes.

The recommendations came after a Dreamliners July 28 engine failure that occurred during a taxi test and caused a grassfire at the airport in Charleston, S.C.

Loretta Gunter, another Boeing spokeswoman, said that "nothing that weve seen with the Boston event indicates a relationship to the December events."

She said the problems in December were caused by a fault within a power panel. "The design of the 787 includes multiple redundancies that ensure the ability for continued safe operations even in the presence of such an issue," she said.

Robert Fiegl, chair of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Universitys Prescott, Ariz., campus, said its no surprise that there would be electrical issues with the Dreamliner. "It is an airplane whose systems are more dependent than older airplanes on electrical power such as for air condition and pressurization," he says.

The Dreamliner, he says, "is under a microscope because its a brand new aircraft with some new technology.

But, he says, "Its not uncommon for new aircraft to have technical challenges."

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