787 Back In The Air

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Boeing resumed flight tests of the 787 Dreamliner just before Christmas, saying it had installed a new, interim version of revised software governing its power distribution system on the first of six test aircraft. A short circuit and fire caused by a foreign object inside a power distribution box Nov. 6 resulted in a six-week suspension of the flight test program. An FAA certification crew was at the controls. It wasn't the fire itself that caused all the concern, however. The fire resulted in cascading system failures that led to the crew making an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas, without cockpit displays, electronic flight controls and autothrottles. Meanwhile, a 787 customer is worrying out loud about the airliner's suspected weight problem.

The addition of reinforcement to the aircraft's structure plus the usual weight gain that all developmental aircraft seem to suffer could affect route plans being devised by Air New Zealand for the 787. "Some routes are right on the edge of the range envelop, that if the aircraft comes on significantly heavy that will cause some issues for us," CEO Rob Fyfe told The Wall Street Journal last week. Fyfe wouldn't specify the routes but said the airline is considering serving South America, China and other far-flung destinations with the Dreamliner.