Boeing had a plan long before this incident that Airbus could only imagine. In contingency plans it had worked out on what to do in the event of tail drags, equipment collisions and other strike events against the 787 plastic hull. It never envisioned the need for a plastic fix near the rear crown of the 787, a very critical and highly engineered area where many join functions with flight surfaces occur and other technical systems surge through the aircraft, A fire in that spot was not a high probability event that would ever occur. Airbus eagerly awaited a Boeing fix on its barrel section design over the Airbus' plug and replace panel repair. In silence they high -fived that non injury incident, as for now the Airbus panel case wins over the barrel.
It appears that a well written Aviation Week article has outlined the case that many thought would not hapen, but Boeing's travel A-team made a repair in London right near where it caught fire.
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Key Quotes from Aviation Week
"The job was also handled in a routine and confident way thanks to almost a decade of development, test and manufacturing experience on the 787, in addition to earlier structural composite work on the 777 and other smaller components, he says.
“We've been working with a much bigger scale of composites in the factory and in flight test. It's analogous to when we went from analog to digital aircraft,” Fleming says. “There was a skill set of mechanics around analog, and that changed with the 747-400 and 777. The skill set changed as you went to fly-by-wire, and you see a similar evolution taking place on the materials side.”
The repaired 787 flew on a test flight from Heathrow on Dec. 21, and returned to service shortly after. Aside from this major event, Fleming says “the real success has been composites.” He notes that “there was a lot of anxiety in the industry about lightning strikes and 'ramp rash,'” the day-to-day damage caused by impact with ground vehicles and airport stands and ramps. “There were concerns about lightning strikes particularly from Japanese customers, but I quit counting after 20 lightning strikes,” Fleming says. Composites have proved very durable, he points out."------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Read the full article to gain an appreciation for all the questions asked at the beginning of the 787 program that is now is answered. Lightning strikes, major repairs and minor patching have been answered when the Ethiopian 787 lifted off from London- Heathrow leaving the Airbus position, a moot point in aviation annals, over the barrel.