Boeing 787 test flight goes wrong

2010-11-10 11:35

Dallas - A Boeing 787 jetliner on a test flight over Texas made an emergency landing Tuesday after smoke was detected in the main cabin, the latest setback in development of the new aircraft.

The aircraft landed safely in Laredo and the crew was evacuated, Boeing spokesperson Loretta Gunter said. Boeing is still gathering information about the incident, she said.

The smoke appeared in the rear cabin of the aircraft, farthest from the cockpit, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"The pilot landed and advised he was declaring an emergency," said Lunsford, who added that the airport fire department was called to the scene. He said the FAA would look into the incident.

Boeing said one person suffered a minor injury as the crew of 30 to 40 people were being evacuated down exit slides.

The 787 is made of composite material designed to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient, but Boeing has run into a series of delays in developing the big, two-aisle passenger aircraft.

Several delays

Boeing has said it will deliver the first production models of the 787 to Japan's All Nippon Airways in the middle of the first quarter of next year - about three years behind schedule.

Development of the aircraft has been pushed back several times by snags including availability of Rolls-Royce engines and supplier workmanship issues. The company halted test flights last summer after finding that some parts in the tail were not properly installed.

It was unclear whether Tuesday's incident would add to the delays.

Boeing is conducting flight tests with several 787s, some with Rolls-Royce engines, which will be the first models delivered to airlines, and others with General Electric engines. The company said last month it had completed takeoff and handling tests for the initial version of the aircraft but that more testing was needed for 787s with GE engines.

Boeing is relying on suppliers from around the country and the world to build components for the aircraft. The company has taken 847 orders from 56 customers.