Fire on 787 test aircraft forces evacuation

Washington DC
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A fire broke out on Boeing's second 787 flight test aircraft today, prompting an emergency landing and evacuation of the test personnel on board.

ZA002 was en route from Yuma, Arizona to Harlingen, Texas, for an extended test of the aircraft's nitrogen generation system, when smoke was seen in the main cabin. It had earlier shifted its destination in-flight to Laredo, Texas where better weather was observed.

The aircraft "continued its approach and landed safely" in Laredo where its evacuation slides were deployed, says Boeing. About 30 test personnel on board evacuated the aircraft safely, it adds. ZA002 landed at 14:54hr, says the FAA.

A source familiar with the incident says the fire had broken out in the aft electronics equipment bay, causing the flight deck primary flight displays and auto throttle to fail.

The aircraft's ram turbine was deployed while landing, which was conducted in visual flight rules conditions, adds the source.

Boeing says it is "continuing to collect data" on the source of the fire. Hamilton Sundstrand, which supplies the 787's electrical system, is in touch with Boeing and is participating in the investigation.

Boeing has cancelled all its planned 787 flight test activities for Wednesday, say programme sources, shifting the fleet to ground testing.