Monday, January 7, 2013

Japan Airlines 787 suffers fire in aft electrical bay

The most recently delivered 787 to Japan Airlines (ZA183, L/N 84, JA829J delivered on Dec. 20, 2012) suffered a small but intense fire in the aircraft's aft electrical bay less than a half an hour after landing at Boston's Logan International Airport. The aircraft had its first flight on Dec. 7, 2012 and conducted 3 test flights after completing final assembly in Everett. The passengers and crew had already deplaned by the time a maintenance worker smelled smoke in the cabin. Mass port and Boston FD responded to the fire to find smoke in the bay and had the fire under control a short time later.

Initial reports indicate that a battery exploded but it unclear if that happened because of the fire or was the cause of the fire. The NTSB has dispatched a team of investigators to Boston to determine the cause. Reports also indicate that there was a minor injury to one firefighter. Jon Ostrower reports in the Wall Street Journal that the fire may have been exacerbated by damage to the LiON battery by a fire ax.

The aft electrical bay has been a source of problems for the 787 since a fire on ZA002 a little over two years ago forced an emergency landing in Laredo, Tx and set back deliveries by 6 months. In the last few months, there has been an increasing number of in service 787s experiencing electrical issues, some in the aft electrical bay. The airlines that have reported electrical issues include United, Air India, Qatar and LAN. Today's fire is by far the most serious of the problems. One cannot ascribe these issues to teething problems as it now seems that the problems may be far more serious than initially thought but hat determination must await the NTSB report.

It is unclear what affect this fire will have on production, testing and delivery of new 787s from Everett and Charleston though ZA512 for ANA did fly not 1 but 2 test flights today well after the fire had occurred. I do suspect Boeing will continue production and testing while the investigation is on going unless the FAA orders a grounding.

6 comments:

Andrew Munsell said...

Lets hope that this is the biggest issue the 787 program will face this year and if it will be then it is good it is out of the way now

nskiwi said...

Boeing needs some good news from the 787, this latest issue will be everywhere in the news and along with all the other problems airlines have faced this is not looking good, however the plane is safe to fly and if not it would of been grounded or not have received its tickets. However could these problems affect its ETOPS??? but also it appears every airline has had some teething problems, I wonder if the 787 test fleet also experienced these same issues or if they did, perhaps it was just put down to new aircraft etc etc with all the testing was expected but not for delivered aircraft

Dinant van den Belt said...

I hope this is not related to the #whoisthebiggest planemaker race. This 787 was part of a mega delivery of 7 dreamliners in 25 hours, shortly before the holiday period.
There seems to be an issue with the wiring in the AFT bay. Let Boeing resolve this issue, otherwise the FAA should step in

Andrew Boydston said...

I am glad this did not do harm while in the air. I hope Boeing can resolve the issue with a clear-cut resolution. The aft electrical bay has an Achilles heel problem and it will be resolved with due diligence. The complication of fixing it fast is not in the plan. It means solving, fixing, and gaining assurance that procedures and systems monitoring, provide an extreme safety margin and protection from electrical issues from ever occurring. My chief concern is why a flame failure occurs, and it takes a human to discover the problem after the crew is long gone. Or another scenario why did does it erupt after all systems were shut down. The fault may be in the design.

Dave C said...

and now a major issue with the fuel!

A 787 trying to take off from Logan Airport is a different airframe from that that had the fire! again a JAL bird, I think its JA824J, can anyone confirm?

TravelingMan said...

What are the odds of two Dreamliner problems on back to back days at the same airport. This is a billion dollar business, remember. Things that make you go hmmmm......