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Industryweek 9282 081915aerospaceroundupheathrow

AEROSPACE ROUNDUP: Lithium Battery Likely Behind 2013 Heathrow Fire

Aug. 19, 2015
Emirates resumes flights to Baghdad. ... Indian IndiGo confirms record order of 250 Airbus A320neos.

LONDON — British aviation authorities called Wednesday for a safety review of lithium batteries used in commercial aircraft, saying they were believed responsible for a 2013 fire on an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft at London’s Heathrow. 

According to a report published by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), an “uncontrolled release of stored energy from the lithium-metal battery” in the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was likely responsible for the blaze aboard the empty Boeing 787 as it sat parked at Heathrow on July 12, 2013. The AAIB said a short circuit appeared to have caused the lithium battery to ignite.

The agency urged aviation authorities in Europe, the United States and Canada to “require equipment manufacturers intending to use lithium-metal batteries in aircraft equipment to demonstrate that the battery design incorporates an acceptable level of circuit protection to mitigate against known failure modes.”

Though the fire broke out in an empty plane, the rapid spread of the blaze through combustible materials in the cabin could have had dire consequences in an airborne craft packed with passengers, it said. The fire led to the closure of Heathrow for 90 minutes, and raised concerns about batteries in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners. 

EMIRATES: DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Emirates Airline announced Tuesday that it will resume passenger flights to the Iraqi capital in September, months after they were suspended over safety concerns.

Emirates will operate four weekly flights from Dubai to Baghdad, served by an A330-200 aircraft starting September 17, the carrier said in a statement published by the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

In January, Emirates was among several carriers to suspend flights to Baghdad after a bullet hit the fuselage of a flydubai airliner, its sister no-frills firm, on its descent in the capital. A young girl was lightly wounded in the incident. Many have since resumed the flights, including Turkish Airlines and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines.

Airlines flying over Iraq had feared that jihadists from the Islamic State group might acquire weapons able to hit cruising airliners. Iraqi security forces are battling to regain ground from IS in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

INDIGO: PARIS — Indian airline IndiGo has confirmed an order for 250 A320neo planes, Airbus announced Monday, the aviation giant’s largest ever contract by number.

The order is worth some $26.5 billion (24 billion euros) at catalogue prices, and brings to 530 the number of A320 and A320neo medium-haul planes owned by the low-cost operator. The purchase of the single-aisle A320neo planes confirms a draft deal signed in October.

For decades, Indians depended on the nation’s bone-jolting railways to travel but cheap air fares have encouraged tens of millions of increasingly affluent Indians to fly. International tourism in the region is also booming.

IndiGo, India’s largest passenger carrier, is the sole airline operating in the country to report profits consistently thanks to zealous cost controls – even with India’s high fuel taxes, ramshackle airport infrastructure and vicious fare fights. The order is also part of Indigo’s drive to keep its fleet young — it retires its aircraft after six years — to minimize maintenance and fuel costs.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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