A Boeing 787 Dreamliner continued the model's string of bad luck yesterday when it burst into flames on the tarmac at London Heathrow Airport yesterday. The good news was that it was unoccupied at the time. And now there's a little bit more: investigators say it wasn't the battery's fault.
Britain's version of the NTSB — the Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) — put it this way in a statement:
There has been extensive heat damage in the upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft, and the initial investigation is likely to take several days. However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) batteries are located, and, at this stage, there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship.
That's particularly heartening, considering that the revised design of the 787's battery was deemed A-OK for commercial flight by the FAA. It's good to know this isn't proof that they were wrong. But it does mean that the 787's impromptu inferno is, for the moment, unexplained.