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Boeing continues to investigate cause of Dreamliner fire

Boeing has confirmed faulty power panels were behind the fire onboard a test 787 Dreamliner plane earlier this week.

Test plane ZA002 lost primary electrical power as a result of the fire during approach to Laredo, Texas, on Tuesday.

Auxiliary systems were used to compensate, with the plane able to make a safe landing carrying 42 passengers.

“We have determined that a failure in the P100 panel led to a fire involving an insulation blanket,” explained the American manufacturer in a statement.

Found under passenger seats close to the wings of the aircraft, the P100 panel is one of the Dreamliner’s numerous power panels.

The panel obtains power from the left engine and distributes it to a range of systems.

“The insulation self-extinguished once the fault in the P100 panel cleared,” continued Boeing.

“The P100 panel on ZA002 has been removed and a replacement unit is being shipped to Laredo.”


Significant Damage

While damage to the ZA002 P100 panel is described as “significant”, initial inspections did not show extensive damage to the surrounding structure or other systems.

Investigations are ongoing, Boeing confirmed, with flight testing still suspended.

“As part of our investigation, we will conduct a detailed inspection of the panel and insulation material to determine if they enhance our understanding of the incident,” added Boeing.

“We continue to evaluate data to understand this incident. At the same time, we are working through a repair plan.

“In addition, we are determining the appropriate steps required to return the rest of the flight test fleet to flying status.”


The 787 Dreamliner, launched in April 2004, has suffered a series of setbacks, many of them from challenges in the international production of parts for the mid-size plane.

It is presently running approximately three years behind schedule.

Boeing says the high-tech 787, made essentially from composite materials, will deliver a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared with planes of similar size flying today.

The first 787 was initially promised to Japanese launch customer All Nippon Airways in the first half of 2008.

Delivery has now been pushed back to around February 2011.