Boeing will be updating its 787 power panel after investigations of an onboard electrical fire on a test plane earlier this month. The 30-second fire forced an emergency landing in Texas. Boeing subsequently grounded its six-plane airborne test fleet.
In a media statement Boeing says that it is “developing minor design changes to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane.”
Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program said that “We have successfully simulated key aspects of the onboard event in our laboratory and are moving forward with developing design fixes, Boeing is developing a plan to enable a return to 787 flight test activities and will present it to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as soon as it is complete.”
Engineers have determined that the fault began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc in the P100 power distribution panel, most likely caused by the presence of foreign debris. The design changes will improve the protection within the panel. Software changes also will be implemented to further improve fault protection, the statement continued.
The P100 panel is one of five major power distribution panels on the 787. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems, the statement explains. The 787 team is now assessing the time required to complete the design changes and software updates that are being developed. A revised 787 program schedule is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.
“Our team is focused on developing these changes and moving forward with the flight test program,” said Fancher. “The team in Laredo is also well along in preparing to return ZA002 to Seattle.”
Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, have fallen about 10 percent since the Nov. 9 fire. The stock closed down 1.3 percent at $62.78 on the New York Stock Exchange, reported Reuters.