Last updated: 12:00 PM ET, Sat May 02 2015

Software Bug That Could Cause 'Catastrophic Shut-Down' Found on Dreamliner

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | May 02, 2015

Software Bug That Could Cause 'Catastrophic Shut-Down' Found on Dreamliner

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A safety warning has been issued to Boeing 787 Dreamliner operators by the FAA after Boeing discovered a software bug that could potentially shut down the aircraft’s electrical supply mid-flight, Bidness Etc reported.

Boeing said no plane has experienced the problem yet, but the potential for such an issue was revealed in simulator tests. These tests showed that electrical supply generators could all shut down at once if left on continuously for 248 days.

The FAA has a simple solution: switch off the generators during routine maintenance, just to be safe.

It seems like this has been happening already, though. According to Bidness Etc, records show the power systems of all Dreamliners have been switched off and on while receiving routine maintenance.

Recent purchasers of 264 Dreamliners, including Air India, Ethiopian Airlines and Japan Airlines, were alerted to the issue two weeks ago.  

The power generators supply electricity to most of crucial aircraft systems. The Dreamliner has six, twin 250-kilovolk-ampere units on both engines, and twin 225-kilovolk-ampere units as backups.

Boeing found that if the four main engine generators were run without a break for eight months, there will be an overflow in the aircraft’s internal counter software and the control units will enter a fail-safe mode. This will lead to what the FAA called “a catastrophic shut-down.”

This is just the latest issue for the Dreamliner. The jet has been plagued with battery issues since 2011, and the whole fleet was grounded in 2013 after fires caused by malfunctioning batteries.  

Also, the “stretched” 787-9 Dreamliner was rejected by the FAA in 2014 for two components deemed not airworthy, requiring a waiver to allow the plane to fly.


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