Boeing has grounded its six 787 flight test aircraft following an in-flight electrical fire.

The fire started aboard ZA002, Boeing's second 787 test aircraft, in the aircraft's aft electrical equipment bay and occurred as the aircraft was on approach to Laredo, Texas.

"We have decided to focus on ground tests until we better understand the incident on ZA002," says Boeing. "It is not possible to tell at this point how long it will take to make that determination. If it is complete earlier in the day today, we could elect to conduct flights later in the day. The technical team is working to understand the data and we will give them as much time as they need."

Forty-two test personnel were on board the aircraft when the fire broke out and were evacuated using the emergency escape slide system.

 ANA 787, ©Boeing


According to a source briefed on the incident, the fire caused a series of cascading failures including drop out of some of the flight deck displays and autothrottle systems.

The extent of damage to the aircraft's systems and composite primary structure has not been officially disclosed by Boeing, but is believed to be extensive, say those familiar with the incident.

Boeing's first delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways, whose colours adorn ZA002, is slated for a mid-February 2011 after nearly three years of delays.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news