The source of a fire on an empty Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 in London today has not been determined, but early photos from the scene do not line up with damage done by the failures of the jet's lithium ion batteries earlier this year.
Photos from London show damage to the outside of the plane, near its tail — not close to any of the battery locations. The damaged area is circled in yellow this diagram:
Guy Norris, who has authored multiple books about the Boeing 787, wrote on Aviation Week that today's images "show that the blaze was probably not connected with the lithium-ion battery problems which grounded the aircraft earlier this year."
David Kaminski-Morrow, editor of Flight Global, noted on Twitter that batteries (especially ones in a newly designed container) are not the only things on a plane that can catch on fire:
Plenty of things on an aircraft which can burn and which aren't sat in a newly-designed metal containment box. #Ethiopian #787
— David KaminskiMorrow (@FlightDKM) July 12, 2013
Furthermore, Ethiopians Airlines said in a statement today that the 787 had been parked for eight hours before the fire started, making it less likely that an overheating battery is to blame.
Here's a photo from London:
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) July 12, 2013
And here's what the Japan Airlines 787 looked like, after its battery overheated on January 7:
From what we've seen so far, the details don't match.
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