Monday, November 22, 2010

In-flight 787 fire reportedly caused by a misplaced tool

The fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flight two weeks ago resulted from a short circuit caused by a tool mistakenly left in an electrical equipment cabinet on the plane, according to French newspaper La Tribune.

In an article on Monday, the paper said that while the misplaced tool was the cause of the fire, engineers are trying to find a way to prevent it from happening again. La Tribune attributed the information to "industry sources."

A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on the accuracy of the report, saying the investigation is ongoing.

"The investigation is not complete. Anything indicating cause or next steps is just speculation at this point," she said.

The French report said contractor Hamilton Sundstrand, a unit of United Technologies that provides electrical components, was likely one of several manufacturers involved.

Hamilton Sundstrand said it was "offering full support of the investigation and assisting Boeing."

Boeing halted test flights on the long-delayed 787 following the November 9 fire, which caused an emergency landing of the plane in Laredo, Texas.

The company has not said whether the fire would affect its plans to make first delivery of the light-weight, carbon-composite plane to the first customer in the first quarter of 2011.

The delivery is already nearly three years behind schedule. Some aviation experts believe there could be another delay of a few months to a few years.

"We think it is probably a positive if the source of the fire can be traced to an errant tool, rather than a system design issue," said Robert Stallard, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a research note.


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