A United Airlines 787 flight crew that made an emergency landing today asked ground crews to inspect the fuselage structure at the location of the aft electrical equipment bay.
The crew radioed the request while on final approach to New Orleans international airport, where they had diverted about 35min after take-off from Houston while enroute to Newark.
"If in fact anything is going on it will be the area back behind the wing, the rear of the wing, the third [exit] door on each side," the pilot said, according to a recording on LiveATC.net. He added: "It's behind the wing where the high-load electrical stuff is."
That describes the location and power output of the aft electronics equipment bay, which caught fire during a flight test two years ago.
But the flight crew may have been making the request as a precaution, as they made it clear they did not expect the firefighters to find anything wrong.
"We don't anticipate anything," the crewmember said, "but that's just where [the firefighters] need to be."
The 787 made the emergency landing and off-loaded the passengers without incident. Firefighters did not find "anything abnormal on either side [of the aircraft]," according to a transmission from the New Orleans control tower. A follow-up inspection found no evidence of fire or arcing in the electrical panels.
The aircraft diverted due to a problem that the flight crew described only as an "electrical malfunction". The diversion occurred shortly after the 787 reached 41,000 feet, and according to FlightAware.com. As the aircraft descended to 24,000 feet and turned south to New Orleans, the flight crew declared the emergency.
"Boeing is aware of the diversion of United's 787 flight to New Orleans," Boeing says. "We are working with our customer, at their request, to further understand the event."