London: The reports of fire on an Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner at London Heathrow Airport spooked Boeing investors on Friday. Now they fear the re-emergence of battery problems that grounded the plane for months earlier this year.
    
Boeing shares lost USD 5.01, or 4.7 percent, to USD 101.87. At its peak, the selling knocked off USD 7.89 a share, or USD 6 billion of market value. The stock recovered slightly as speculation about the cause of the fire shifted away from the batteries.
    
The cause of the fire on the Ethiopian Airlines plane which broke out more than 8 hours after it had landed in London on Friday, remained under investigation. The location of the fire led some experts to surmise it wasn't the planes lithium-ion batteries.
    
Meanwhile, an unspecified mechanical issue caused another 787 flown by Thomson Airways to return to Manchester Airport, adding to concerns about the plane.
    
Runways at Heathrow were shut down for nearly an hour as emergency crews put out the fire. No passengers were on the plane. The 787, which Boeing dubs the Dreamliner, was grounded in January following two incidents with its lithium-ion batteries. One 787 caught fire shortly after it landed at Boston's Logan International Airport on January 7.     

Boeing marketed the plane to airlines as a revolutionary jet which thanks to its lightweight design burns 20 percent less fuel to comparable aircraft.
    
Boeing, based in Chicago, has delivered 66 of the planes to customers with another 864 of them on order. Boeing's stock partially rebounded after photos were circulated showing the section of the plane damaged by the fire an area far away from the battery compartment. The photos show the rear roof of the plane burned, near the jet's vertical stabilizer, often called the tail. In that part of the plane above the overhead bins are a set of beds where some of the flight attendants can sleep on very long flights.
    
The batteries are located in two separate compartments under the floor of the plane. One is near the wings; the other under the cockpit. Yesterday's fire wasn't near either of those areas. "Evidence thus far suggests that the battery was not the cause of the fire at Heathrow," Jason Gursky, an aerospace analyst with Citi told investors.

JPN/Agencies

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