Investigation into Boeing 787 engine debris fire begins - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Investigation into Boeing 787 engine debris fire begins

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine why debris fell from the engine of a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and began a grass fire, shutting down the airport for more than an hour Saturday. 

Candy Eslinger, a Boeing spokesperson, said "a 787 experienced an engine issue while undergoing preflight runway testing in North Charleston."

Terry Williams, with the NTSB, said an investigator arrived at the Charleston International Airport Sunday and will gather information on the incident. 

"Right now we are gathering information about what happened," said Williams.

Airport spokesperson Becky Beaman said the airport was closed down for 1 hour and 10 minutes due to the incident. Beaman said a few flights were delayed but no flights were canceled.

The airport was shutdown due to the findings of metal debris on the runway after a sweep was conducted by Air Force Base emergency crews.

The Charleston Air Force Base called in a ground emergency just after 4 o'clock Saturday. Rose Alexander, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the Air Force Fire Department responded to a fire at the approach of the runway.

"It was a very small grass fire, maybe five feet," said Alexander.

Air Force maintenance crews evaluated the debris to see if it came from any of the C-17s that also use the airport but it was concluded the debris "did not come from a military aircraft." 

The Charleston Airport runway is a joint use runway, but is maintained by the Air Force.

Boeing said they will wait to see what hear the findings of the NTSB investigation before making any decisions.

"While the investigation is in its early stages, we are unaware of any operational issue that would present concerns about the continued safe operation of in-service 787s powered by GE engines," said Eslinger.

"Should the investigation determine a need to act, Boeing has the processes in place to take action and will do so appropriately."

The NTSB said they may have more information to release to the media Monday.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press and WCSC. All rights reserved.

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