Boeing Dreamliners investigated after fire

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxis after landing last year at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Nelson Ching / Bloomberg)

Federal regulators are investigating Boeing Co.’s 787 jets after one such Dreamliner plane sparked a grass fire in South Carolina during pre-flight testing.

Boeing said one of the commercial planes “experienced an engine issue” Saturday on the runway in North Charleston. The Post and Courier, a local paper, reported that debris from the brand new jet fell onto the grass and started a fire, which temporarily shut down the airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now “in its early stages” of investigating, according to the company.

Boeing said it is “unaware of any operational issue that would present concerns about the continued safe operation of in-service 787s powered by GE engines.” But the company said it will behave “appropriately” should the government’s probe “determine a need to act.”

The 787 has been beset by production glitches. In February, Boeing discovered a fuselage flaw that it said could slow deliveries.

Last week, five Dreamliners belonging to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways were grounded because of corrosion discovered in jet engines during testing. The airline owns 11 of the jets.

The Dreamliner, which seats up to 290 passengers, made its initial passenger flight with All Nippon in October after a three-year delay caused by design and supplier problems.

Through June, Boeing has taken 845 orders for the jet, which is priced between $185 million and $218 million. The plane is being touted as a lighter-weight innovator that will fly faster and farther than earlier jets, with better fuel efficiency and more passenger comfort.  

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