LONDON - A fire aboard an empty 787 at Heathrow Airport spooked Boeing investors Friday, as they feared the re-emergence of battery problems that grounded the plane for months earlier this year.
Boeing shares lost $5.01, or 4.7 percent, to $101.87. At its peak, the selling knocked off $7.89 a share, or $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 - remained under investigation. The location of the fire led some experts to surmise it wasn't the planes lithium-ion batteries.
An Air Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner 'Queen of Sheba' aeroplane, on the runway near Terminal 3, at shown at Heathrow Airport in London, Friday. Two Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes ran into trouble in England on Friday, with a fire on one temporarily shutting down Heathrow Airport and an unspecified technical issue forcing another to turn back to Manchester Airport.
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 Jan. 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.