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When footage of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 on fire at London Heathrow Airport was broadcast around the world in July 2013, the industry braced itself for another potential setback to the Dreamliner programme.
The global 787 fleet had already been grounded for three months following a series of electrical fires caused by on-board lithium-ion batteries.
With the Ethiopian blaze breaking out in the upper aft fuselage of the stationary aircraft – well away from the main and APU batteries – it was clear that Boeing had a new problem on its hands. Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch quickly placed the blame on an incorrectly installed battery within the aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter, allowing the industry to breathe a collective sigh of relief...