MIAMI — The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner damaged in a fire in London earlier this year is expected to undergo repair soon via a extensive composite patch. Details of the repair remain scant, but according to several credible sources with knowledge of the matter who requested to remain anonymous, Airchive was able to discern the following details:
-The repair is expected to be completed entirely in London-Heathrow.
-A new aft barrel section was made for the repair, from which customized parts have been cut to fit the damaged 787.
-Once the damaged areas are sanded away, the replacement sections will be glued into place.
-Boeing, who declined to comment for this story, is expected to be handling the repair process.
The incident was sparked on July 12th when an emergency locator beacon malfunctioned and caught fire. The plane, which was on the ground and empty at the time, was heavily damaged. Photos depicted heavy charring in the rear of the airplane just forward of the tail.
The airplane has sat on a cargo ramp at London-Heathrow Airport ever since, largely out of sight of prying eyes. Activity picked up earlier this week when scaffolding and tents began to surround the aircraft. The news supports information obtained by Airchive that replacement parts were shipped this week to the site.
The repair job has generated significant interest from the aviation industry as all have waited to see how Boeing intends to fix the all-composite airliner. It will be the first major fuselage repair done on the airplane in the field. Unlike aluminum airplanes, whose numerous skin panels can easily be removed and repaired, the 787 is made primarily from large barrels of composite material. The repair is expected to go well beyond simply replacing burnt sections of the hull, however. As the fire started from the inside there are likely other critical systems and sub-skin structures that will need to be replaced, or at least tested, before the airplane can be cleared again for flight.
Ethiopian has not provided comment at the time of publication.