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Thomson Airways says Dreamliner forced to return to UK

LONDON (Reuters) - A Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Britain's Thomson Airways, flying to the United States from northwest England, was forced to return to Britain due to technical problems as a precaution on Friday, the airline said.

The incident was unrelated to a fire aboard another Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines while it was on the ground at Britain's Heathrow Airport.

"Thomson Airways can confirm that flight TOM126 travelling from Manchester to Sanford, Florida, experienced a technical issue and the aircraft returned to Manchester Airport, as a precautionary measure," Thomson Airways, owned by TUI Travel, said in a statement.

TUI Travel said its passengers had disembarked and that its engineers were inspecting the aircraft in Manchester, northwest England. It added that the passengers would be moved to an alternative aircraft as soon as possible.

Thomson Airways, the first British carrier to use the Dreamliner, operated its first commercial flight using the lightweight, fuel-efficient jet on a special flight from London's Gatwick to Minorca in Spain last month.

TUI Travel, whose airlines use 141 aircraft, received the first of its 13 Dreamliners in late May. It is using the new plane on services between Manchester, East Midlands, Glasgow and Gatwick airports to Florida in the United States and Cancun in Mexico.

Thomson had planned to start using the Dreamliner in May but was forced to push its timetable back after the plane's battery problems delayed its delivery.

IAG's British Airways took delivery of the first of its 24 Dreamliners late last month. Virgin Atlantic is due to get the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September next year.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Andrew Roche)

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