Boeing working Qatar 787 grounding, but root cause elusive

Washington DC
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Boeing says a grounded Qatar Airways 787 will be returned to service "as expeditiously as possible", but they are still trying to understand the root cause of the electrical failures involved.

The Boeing statement was released hours after the airframer received a public rebuke by Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

Arriving at London Heathrow, Al Baker said the carrier's third 787 has been grounded since it arrived from a delivery flight. The aircraft has the same problem with a generator control unit that failed on a United Airlines 787 on 4 December, which prompted an in-flight diversion and a six-day grounding until Boeing repaired the problem.

Boeing, however, is still not concluded whether the two events are related.

"In terms of this being compared to the United event, we're going to give the technical team sufficient time to review the findings of both events and understand how they might be similar or different," Boeing says.

The 787 electrical system relies on six generator control units, but they are designed to redistribute the electrical load among the remaining units if any one of them fails. The United 787 never lost electrical power during the flight despite the failure of one of the generator control units.

The United 787 was returned to flight status on 10 December, but it may not have remained in service. According to United's web site, the Newark to Houston leg of flight 1721 was operated today by a Boeing 777 instead of the regular 787.

United did not respond to requests for comment on the change.