11 Nov 2010

Boeing suspends Dreamliner test flights

2:19 pm on 11 November 2010

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has suspended test flights of its much delayed new plane, the 787 Dreamliner.

The move comes a day after an incident in the main cabin during a test flight, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Texas.

Air New Zealand has ordered eight of the 787s and is expecting delivery to begin at the end of 2013.

A spokesperson for Boeing said the company had decided not to fly the plane until the incident was better understood.

The plane apparently suffered some sort of fire as it prepared to land after a routine test flight.

The Seattle Times reports that flames were spotted coming from an area which houses electrical equipment.

The newspaper says the fire affected cockpit controls and was serious enough for the pilot to declare an emergency before landing.

The engineers and crew on board the test flight were all evacuated on the tarmac via emergency chutes.

It is the first high-profile safety incident involving a 787, which is designed to be more fuel efficient and lighter weight than any large passenger jet currently in service.

The incident is the latest setback for the programme which, despite the problems, has racked up a record number of advance sales.

The programme is running nearly three years behind schedule.