Generator failure caused United 787 diversion

Washington DC
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A generator control unit failed on a Boeing 787 that diverted to the New Orleans airport on 4 December shortly after take-off from Houston Intercontinental.

Boeing confirmed today that so far the electrical system malfunction is a problem contained solely to United Airlines' 787, and has not affected the rest of the fleet.

The non-working generator on the United 787 will be replaced and the aircraft will be returned to service, Boeing says.

The precise timing of the aircraft's return is not available, but Boeing says it "should not take long".

Immediate speculation on the electrical malfunction that caused the diversion focused on the aft electrical equipment bay, the same area that was the source of a fire due to electrical arcing during a flight test two years ago.

The United crew yesterday advised firefighters on an open radio channel to inspect the area of the aft electrical equipment bay for signs of discolouration or dripping plastic, but it is possible that the request was made as a precaution. The aircraft landed and the passengers disembarked by airstairs without further incident.

An inspection revealed no signs of fire or electrical arcing, Boeing says.

Instead, one of the six general control units supplied by UTC Aerospace failed, the company says. The 787, however, is designed with multiple redundancies in the power distribution system, which absorbed the electrical load of the failed generator and the aircraft never lost power, Boeing says.

The cause of the generator failure and the crew's reported electrical malfunction has not been released, if it has been identified.