Tags: Britain | fire | aviation | Boeing

Probe to Recommend Removing Beacons From Dreamliners

Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 11:22 AM

British authorities probing a fire on Boeing's new-generation Dreamliner plane are set to recommend that distress beacons made by Honeywell be removed from all the 787 aircraft for checks, a source told AFP.

The blaze on an Ethiopian Airlines plane in London last Friday was a further blow to Boeing, which withdrew from service its entire fleet of Dreamliners earlier this year due to separate concerns that lithium ion batteries on board could cause fires.

Investigators probing the incident on the plane, which was parked and empty when it happened, have said it was not caused by overheating batteries this time, and Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch is due to publish its initial conclusions on Thursday or Friday.

"In its preliminary report, the AAIB is expected to put forward two recommendations to the FAA, including that the ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) be uninstalled to check," a source close to the case said.

It is unclear what the implications would be, and whether this would force the grounding of Dreamliners again.

The AAIB, which refused to comment on Thursday, was also due to ask the FAA to check on all Honeywell beacons of the same type as those on the fire-hit Dreamliner, which are also used on other planes, the source said.

The device is designed to help localize the plane if it crashes, and it is powered by a small lithium-manganese battery.

Investigators are seeking to determine whether the beacon itself caused the fire on the plane or whether its surroundings triggered the incident.

Other planes, including those belonging to Boeing's rival Airbus, have the same type of distress beacons on board, but these are located in different parts of the aircraft.

Honeywell Aerospace, which has sent experts to Heathrow airport, said Monday that they were never made aware "of any problem on this product," certified by the FAA since 2005.

On Thursday, it said it had not received any orders to temporarily remove the ELTs from Dreamliners.

But "as a safety-first company, we would support an action like this as a precautionary measure if our team, or the AAIB and NTSB, determine it's necessary to do so," spokesman Steve Brecken told AFP.

The Dreamliner, which makes extensive use of lighter, carbon-based composite materials that reduce fuel consumption, came into service in September 2011.

© AFP 2015

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