Boeing 787 First Delivery Delayed Until Third Quarter of 2011
On November 9, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flight was evacuated after landing in Laredo, Texas due to an electrical fire, causing a loss of primary electrical power and sending smoke into the cockpit. No injuries were reported and backup systems, including the deployment of the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), functioned and allowed the crew to perform a safe landing.
Boeing later said the failure in a power control panel in the aft electronics bay caused the fire that involved an insulation blanket. “The insulation self-extinguished once the fault in the P100 panel cleared,” Boeing said.
But flight test activities on the 787 Dreamliner were suspended for more than a month and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said initially it had no plans to resume certification testing on the aircraft until the cause of the incident was known. Just before Christmas, Boeing was able to resume its test activities.
The company said it had installed an interim version of updated power distribution system software and conducted a rigorous set of reviews to confirm the flight readiness of ZA004, the first of the six flight test airplanes that returned to flight. “Initially, we will resume a series of Boeing tests that remain to be completed in the flight test program. That testing will be followed later by a resumption of certification testing,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, in December.
A test in late December, the first, included an intentional deployment of the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), which is a small turbine that is deployed when back-up power is required.
As a result of the incident and the subsequent investigation, Boeing has been forced to push back the first 787 Dreamliner delivery to the third quarter of this year. “This revised timeline for first delivery accommodates the work we believe remains to be done to complete testing and certification of the 787,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “We’ve also restored some margin in the schedule to allow for any additional time that may be needed to complete certification activities,” Fancher said.
The 787 program has since December been gradually returning individual airplanes to the flight test program. After receiving interim software and hardware improvements, four flight test airplanes have been subjected to extensive ground testing and a thorough review to ensure their readiness to return to flight. The remaining two airplanes will be returning to flight in the days ahead to bring the full flight test fleet back up to flight status.
Boeing said the delivery, one of many, is not expected to have a material impact on financial results.