2 787s to return to Seattle; Boeing mum on testing schedule

  • By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2010 3:23pm

Flight testing of the Boeing Co.’s Dreamliner remains on hold Tuesday, however, the company will bring two of its 787s back to the Puget Sound region.

Boeing is continuing its investigation into an electrical fire that forced an emergency landing of the company’s second 787 last Tuesday in Texas. The company had grounded its fleet of six 787 test planes.

Although testing is on hold, Boeing will bring two 787s back to Seattle, it said in a statement Tuesday morning. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s plan to bring back its first 787, which was in Rapid City, S.D., and the fifth 787, which was in Victorville, Calif. No testing will occur on the flights to Seattle.

The first Dreamliner left South Dakota at 9:38 a.m. PST, and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle. The pilots reported that the flight was uneventful, wrote Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter in an e-mail.

The fifth 787 left California at 2:28 p.m. PST, and is expected to land at Boeing Field at 4:43 p.m., according to FlightAware.

“No decision has been reached on when flight testing of the 787 will resume. Before that decision can be made, we must complete the investigation and assess whether any design changes are necessary,” Boeing said in a statement.

Boeing said it can’t comment on the potential impact on the 787 delivery schedule. The company was expected to deliver the first 787 in February to Japan’s All Nippon Airways. The Dreamliner program was running nearly three years behind schedule before the electrical fire.

On Tuesday, Boeing provided an update into the investigation of the 787 fire:

• The duration of the incident was less than 90 seconds;

• The fire lasted less than 30 seconds;

• The airplane recovered from the event to a level that it could have sustained in order to return to an airport for normal landing.

Boeing has a team in Laredo, Texas, where the second 787 made its emergency landing last week. The team removed a panel from the rear electronics bay where the fire started. That panel was sent to Seattle late last week to be inspected.

The team in Texas has completed its inspection of the second 787 and has begun to prepare to install a new power panel and new insulation material, Boeing said. The team also is repairing minor structural damage from the event.

Boeing is evaluating how long the work will take.

Boeing’s shares dropped as low as $61.84 Tuesday after the company’s update.

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