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More trouble for Boeing’s Dreamliner; battery explodes on parked 787

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Jan. 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm with No Comments »
January 7, 2013 3:14 pm

Boeing had three years beyond its original delivery dates to make sure it got its 787 Dreamliner right. But some airlines now are wondering if the company worked out the glitches afterall.

A fire aboard a parked 787 Dreamliner this morning at Boston’s Logan Airport has Boeing and its airline customers wondering if the plane’s electrical system is correctly designed.

That fire aboard a Japan Air Lines 787 that had arrived from Tokyo and had discharged its passengers broke out in an aft avionics compartment after a battery there reportedly exploded.

According to airport fire fighters, they encountered heavy smoke in plane’s cabin. They used thermal imaging devices to find the source of the fire.

Today’s fire isn’t the only electrical problem in recent weeks for the Dreamliner. A United 787 late last year was forced to divert from a flight to Newark from Houston to land at New Orleans because a generator failure.

Last month, a Qatar Airways plane just delivered by Boeing encountered a similar generator problem that grounded it in London.

During final testing two years ago, a Dreamliner landing at a Texas airport experienced an electrical fire in a rear avionics compartment. The plane landed without incident, but Boeing grounded the planes for six weeks while it sought a solution to the problem.

Boeing’s first delivery of the 787 was to All Nippon Airways in the fall of 2011, nearly three and a half years behind the original schedule. Boeing blamed the delay on construction and design issues with subcontractors, a strike and shortages of fasteners and other critical parts.

The Dreamliner is far more dependent on electrical power than previous airliners which used air bled from the engines to power some devices such as climate control and ventilation systems and hydraulically-powered control surfaces instead of electrical motors that moved flaps and other surfaces.

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