Reuters and other news sources have reported that an Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 777 cargo plane caught fire while loading cargo at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Wednesday. The fire has been contained and none of the crew or ground staff were harmed.
The cause of the incident was under investigation, Ethiopian Airlines said in a Facebook post.
According to the airline, the Boeing 777F is the aircraft with the registration ET-ARH. The full freighter, powered by two GE90-110 turbofans, was less than six years old. The aircraft had landed in Shanghai a few hours before the fire as flight ET3738 coming from Brussels and was to continue with a stopover in Addis Ababa to São Paulo in Brazil and to Santiago de Chile. An accident investigation is now to clarify how this fire came about.
Pictures and videos circulating on Chinese social media showed heavy smoke pouring from an Ethiopian aircraft, and a large section of the upper fuselage appeared scorched.
After the fire broke, flights bound for Shanghai Pudong International Airport were diverted to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, said aviation data provider Variflight.
The airline operates a fleet of 10 777 freighters for international service, as well as two smaller B737-800 cargo planes on regional routes. It also carries cargo in the bellies of passenger planes.
Ethiopian Airlines adjusted its cargo operations earlier this year to assist with combating the spread of COVID-19 in East Africa. By early June, the carrier said it had flown 86 charter flights to transport medical supplies in response to the pandemic.