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Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire Caused ’Severe’ Damage

The fire aboard a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner in Boston yesterday caused “severe damage” to a battery unit, U.S. investigators said today.

The battery, located in an electronics bay in the belly of the new Japan Airlines Co. jet, triggered thermal damage to equipment and the plane’s structure, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The damage was confined to within about 20 inches of the battery pack, the agency said in its first statement since opening an investigation into the fire.

The blaze aboard Boeing’s newest model is the latest issue for a jet plagued by incidents since entering commercial service in late 2011.

A previous fire in an equipment bay forced the test fleet to be parked in 2010. Electrical faults in December forced United Continental Holdings Inc. and Qatar Airways Ltd. to ground 787s, the first jet with a fuselage made chiefly of composite materials instead of aluminum and with an all-electric power system.

Airport firefighters extinguished the blaze after a maintenance worker saw smoke in the cabin as the jet sat at a Logan International Airport gate before its next departure, Massachusetts Port Authority Fire Chief Robert Donahue said in an interview.

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