Boeing says its first 787 delivery will slide due to software and minor hardware changes to the electrical system, an assessment the company says will be completed within “the next few weeks.”
The airframer needs to implement changes to the software that manages and protect power distribution on the aircraft, as well as a minor hardware change to the P100 distribution panel to prevent foreign object debris (FOD) ingestion.
“We have successfully simulated key aspects of the on-board event inour laboratory and are moving forward with developing design fixes,”says 787 vice president and general manager Scott Fancher
Boeing says foreign debris “most likely” caused the November 9 fire aboard ZA002 that has halted 787 certification operations.
The company adds that “engineers have determined the fault began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc in the P100 power distribution panel” which sits against the left wall of the 787′s aft electronic equipment bay and manages power generated by the aircraft’s left engine.
Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice president of marketing, says: “Whatever this foreign debris was, it wasn’t something big – such as a tool – it was probably something small. We’re taking the right steps to ensure the power distribution panels are better protected against foreign debris.”
Boeing says it remains unsure how the FOD got into the P100 panel in the first place, and could have been in the panel for sometime, though the company concedes it won’t know how it got there.
As for the six grounded flight test aircraft, Boeing has not yet determined whether or not the design changes would have to be implemented before resuming certification activities, saying only: “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.”
In the interim, Boeing will continue ground testing the fleet and may ferry ZA003 from Everett to Boeing Field in the near future.
Boeing says it is now “assessing the time required to complete the design changes and software updates that are being developed.”