December 21, 2013
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 has made its first flight since suffering structural damage in a fire at London’s Heathrow Airport in July.
Boeing test pilots took ET-AOP on a test flight from Heathrow on December 21, flying racetrack patterns over the North Sea at 39,000 ft. The aircraft was due to land at Manston Airport in the afternoon and then return to Heathrow later in the day. It is not clear whether more flights will be required, but Boeing is hopeful of returning the aircraft to passenger operations in the coming weeks.
The fire, which erupted in one of the 787’s Honeywell-made emergency locator transmitters (ELT) while the aircraft was parked between flights on July 12, scorched the crown of the fuselage forward of the tail fin leading edge and caused major smoke damage to the interior as a whole.
Engineers erected scaffolding and cranes to work on the aircraft in the cargo cul-de-sac of Heathrow where the aircraft has been stranded since the fire on July 12. They removed the aircraft’s vertical stabilizer in order to enable a large area of the Section 47 crown to be cut out and replaced with a new section.
As well as the major structural repair, which is understood to be one of the largest and most significant ever undertaken on a composite fuselage primary structure, the refurbishment is also believed to involve complete replacement of the interior paneling, sidewalls, overhead fixtures, lining, seats and other fittings.
ET-AOP (L/N44) was the first 787 to restart operations in mid-April following the fleet-wide grounding over battery issues.