Update: 787 forced to make emergency landing

By Michael Flux, November 10 2010
Update: 787 forced to make emergency landing

Update: Boeing has halted all 787 Dreamliner test flights following yesterday's forced landing of a 787, which the company says was due to an onboard electrical fire which led to the aircraft losing primary power.

All backup systems "functioned as expected and allowed the crew to complete a safe landing", according to a statement from Boeing released earlier today. The company claims pilots were in "positive control" of the 787 Dreamliner at all times.

Flight data has been retrieved and is now being analysed in Seattle, and is expected to take several days. The manufacturer "will not rush the technical team in its efforts" to determine why the incident occurred.

What effect this will have on expected delivery dates of the 787 remains unknown. "We cannot determine the impact of this event on the overall program schedule until we have worked our way through the data", Boeing says.

Previous: The second Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be test-flown has been forced to make an emergency landing. Reports suggest the much-delayed aircraft was forced to come down after crew spotted smoke in the cabin.

Boeing has announced it will be grounding all test-flights of the 787. A spokeswoman from the manufacturer has told the media no flights will be made "until we better understand the incident."

How long the grounding will last has not been determined, nor have any details on delays to eventual deliveries been announced.

It has been confirmed a crew member on the failed test flight sustained minor injuries while using the aircraft's emergency chute.

Taking off from Yuma, Arizona, the plane was scheduled to land at Valley International in Texas. After the reports of smoke, the plane was brought down to a closer airport in Laredo.

It's being reported that during the approach to the Laredo airport a fire broke out in an electronics bay on the plane, causing critical displays in the cockpit to go black and auto-throttle controls to fail.

The plane had to be landed manually, with pilots using what they could see through the cockpit window as their main guidance.

A ram air turbine was deployed -- an emergency power generator that pops out from the plane and uses the force of air passing by the plane to generate electricity when conventional power systems are out.

The 787 Dreamliner uses Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines -- a cousin to the Trent 900 series engines currently under scrutinity following the Qantas A380 mid-air engine explosion.

An oil fire occurred during ground-based testing of a Trent 1000 engine recently, though it's currently unknown if the 787's engines were involved in the electronics bay fire.

Boeing is currently three years behind its original schedule for finishing the 787 development, and its latest estimates are that it will provide the plane to the first airline customers by next year.

Boeing publishes a frequently-updated 787 Flight Test website, though it hasn't been updated with any information regarding the emergency landing.

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