Boeing Dreamliner

Boeing “can make a full recovery” says brand crisis expert following Heathrow Dreamliner fire


By Stephen Lepitak, -

July 13, 2013 | 3 min read

Following yesterday’s latest fire to affect one of Boeing’s Dreamliner jets, crisis communications specialist Jonathan Hemus has claimed that the company can make a full recovery from the incident, despite the company seeing shares plummet as a result.

The incident, which closed all of the runways at Heathrow Airport last night, was the result of a fire on board an Ethiopia Airlines Dreamliner 787. The aircraft has previously experienced fires as a result of its batteries, however on this occasion the fire appeared to have begun within another area of the plane.

Passengers disembarked the aircraft and no reports of any injuries have been made, as fire fighters were called to the scene.

Asked for his views on the future for the troubled airliner and Boeing, Hemus told The Drum that it was facing “a crisis of monumental proportions.”

He continued: “The company may well fall into the category of businesses which never fully recover from a defining crisis, think Perrier, or even which disappear altogether, such as PanAm. But it is just conceivable that they can make a full recovery, just as Mercedes did when it first launched the A-Class in front of Scandinavian journalists only to roll over in the full glare of TV cameras.”

Hemus added that the situation was worse as a result of previous battery fires: “Businesses will be forgiven for an isolated incident so long as they respond quickly and comprehensively to put it right (and of course communicate effectively with its stakeholders). Repeat offenders find recovery much harder.”

He explained that the best hope Boeing had was to hope that the fire is unrelated to any of the previous issues experienced by the craft.

“Failing that, it must take decisive action to address the technical problem once and for all. Bringing in independent and credible third party experts to speak for them will be essential to endorse Boeing's own statements.

“Most important of all, Boeing cannot afford another incident: no organisation gets a third chance.”

During the incident, Boeing sent just two tweets to acknowledge the situation and state that it had sent experts to the scene to examine it. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines sent no tweets, despite having an active Twitter feed.

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