Smoke in Cabin Grounds Dreamliner Flight

Boeing restricts the program to ground-test operations only.

A Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” jet made an emergency landing this week during a test flight in Texas. The incident is the latest in a series of setbacks for the new aircraft, which has now suffered two years of delays since the project was launched. Smoke was detected in the main cabin, the result of an electrical fire. As the plane lost primary electrical power, pilots deployed backup systems, including the Ram Air Turbine, which functioned normally and allowed a safe landing in Laredo, a Texas border town. The plane had been on a test flight from Yuma, Arizona.

Boeing is investigating and until it knows what caused the fire it has restricted the development program to ground-test operations only. In the latest in a series of delays for the Dreamliner, Boeing only recently postponed its launch until February 2011. Until then, the first carrier to place an order, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, had been scheduled to take delivery of the first 787 by the end of 2010. It is unclear whether the latest incident will delay the process further.