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Continued: UK investigators recommend disabling Honeywell emergency locator beacons in Boeing 787s

  • Article by: CASSANDRA VINOGRAD , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 18, 2013 - 5:35 PM

The Ethiopian Airlines plane had been parked for about 10 hours when a worker in the control tower saw smoke coming out, and activated a crash alarm, the report said. Firefighters were there within a minute. They sprayed water and foam onto the plane. Inside the plane, they found thick smoke, which became denser as they moved toward the back of the plane. Firefighters saw "indications of fire" near the back of the passenger cabin. Halon fire extinguishers didn't put it out, so they pried off a ceiling panel. The fire was put out with water from hoses.

The 787 is Boeing's newest and highest-profile plane. Boeing took a big risk with the 787, using a high-tech plastic for the fuselage instead of the usual aluminum, and using much more electricity to power systems that on other planes would have used air from the outside. The payoff is a much lighter, more fuel-efficient plane.

But those new features have also brought new scrutiny. When lithium-ion batteries on two 787s smoldered in January, regulators grounded the plane for more than three months. Boeing redesigned the battery system and got approval for the planes to return to service.

Boeing shares fell 5 percent the day of the Heathrow fire. They've recovered since as investigators ruled out a connection to the plane's large lithium-ion batteries. The transmitter battery is also lithium-ion, but it's smaller and has a different chemistry that is considered more stable than the batteries that were an issue earlier this year.

Boeing Co. shares rose $2.84, or 2.7 percent, to close at $107.63.

Investors and others are "keenly aware of any gremlins that have disrupted the plane's operations," Jefferies analyst Howard Rubel wrote in a note Thursday. He said Boeing has brought 787 owners together in conferences to compare notes to improve the plane's reliability.

"We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity," Boeing said on Thursday.

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