Boeing 787 fire at Boston airport renews safety concern


In the latest incident, a fire crew determined that a battery used to power the plane's electric systems when the engines are not running had exploded. The mechanic was the only person on board the plane when the smoke was discovered and no one was hurt by the blaze.

"Passengers were in no danger as this event had happened at least 15 minutes after they deplaned," said Massport Fire Chief Bob Donahue.

In late December, Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said the 787 has not experienced an unusual number of problems for a new aircraft, calling the problems "normal squawks."

But Monday's electrical fire raised questions about that view and is likely to make Boeing highly susceptible to any other issues that could arise on the aircraft.

Wing de-icing and cabin air conditioning systems on the 787 are electrical. If ventilation failed on a flight or the cockpit filled with smoke, the pilots would decompress the cabin to get air and would quickly dive to 10,000 feet, where oxygen levels and temperatures are survivable, said Leake, the analyst at BB&T

Capital Markets, who is also a former commercial and military pilot.

He said normal teething issues for a new plane might include an engine shutting down at a gate, stuck landing gear or a malfunctioning lavatory. In contrast, an engine breaking up and a fire that fills the cockpit with smoke are "all squawks that, unfortunately for Boeing, could have severe consequences.

"Any electrical problem in the next 30 days, for whatever reason, which would be a normal teething problem, is going to be a big deal," he added. "It creates a perception issue."

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