First flight of Air India's 787 cut short by failed sensor

Washington DC
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Air India's first 787 made its maiden flight 31 July, though the sortie was cut short by a declared emergency traced to a failed sensor.

Operating as Boeing 233, Airplane 29, wearing Air India's colours, departed Paine Field at Boeing's Everett, Washington facility at 12:46 local time on a standard B-1 production flight for an initial checkout of the aircraft's systems.

Dubbed ZA233, the aircraft took off with an estimated 5h of fuel aboard and four crew, according to recorded air traffic communications.

The flight marked only the third production 787 to fly to date, with the first, Airplane Nine, ZA102, flying in January, followed in March by Airplane 23, ZA177, for Japan Airlines.

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Minutes after departure, the aircraft reported that it was "working a little bit of a flap problem and we might be returning" to Everett before formally declaring an emergency at 12:55 local time, requesting a return to Paine Field, citing an issue with its flight controls.

Boeing says the aircraft "performed a safe landing" at 13:12 local time and the issue was traced to a failed sensor. The airframer declined to offer any additional information on the type of the sensor or nature of the flight control issue.

ZA233 is expected to be eventually registered as VT-AND, but has been assigned a temporary US registration of N1006N.

The aircraft, which is powered by two General Electric GEnx-1B engines, will be ferried to San Antonio, Texas where Boeing has established a refurbishment and change incorporation facility for both 787s and 747-8s. Air India'a first will join ZA177, which has been in Texas since March.

The airframer expects initial type certification of the 787 with Rolls-Royce 'Package A' Trent 1000 engines in late August, with General Electric certification to come later in the fourth quarter.

First delivery to Air India is slated for sometime late in the fourth quarter.