By Orla Ni Sheaghdha
The latest setback in the development of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner occurred yesterday when an aircraft was grounded over Texas during a test flight. The carrier made an emergency landing in Laredo when smoke was detected in the rear cabin, furthest from the cockpit. The fourty-two crew members were safely evacuated with only one sustaining a minor injury. Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration stated that “the pilot landed and advised he was declaring an emergency.”
The smoke is thought to have originated from the jet electrical instrument bay which houses most of the navigation equipment for the 787. Laura Gunter, a spokeswoman for Boeing stated that the cause of the fire was unknown as of last night. The 787 is made of composite material which makes the aircraft lighter and more fuel-efficient. There is speculation, though, as to how durable this renders the carrier during a flight.
Last night’s incident is just one of many which have culminated in the delay of delivery of the 787 Dreamliner. The first production models are set to reach Japan’s All Nippon Airways during the Spring of next year, three years behind schedule. Earlier incidents which contributed to this delay include the improper installation of parts of the tail which postponed test flights last June. Further delay occurred in August when a shipment of Rolls Royce engine parts for the aircraft carriers failed to reach the Chicago company on time.
Tuesday’s events also coincide with recent news of a Qantas A380 engine exploding shortly after take off. The explosion is said to be due to oil leaks and the airline has since grounded the majority of their carriers in order to check them. Both Qantas and Boeing rely on British car manufacturer Rolls Royce for the supply of engines for their carriers. It has been stated that the model used by Boeing is different to that utilised by Qantas.
Further testing on the Boeing 787 is to be carried out.