Boeing tells airlines to check distress beacons after fire

Boeing said Monday it had asked airlines to check distress beacons made by Honeywell on all planes, after the device was identified as the likely cause of a fire on a new Dreamliner.

The blaze occurred on July 12 on an empty 787 Dreamliner owned by Ethiopian Airlines and parked at London's Heathrow airport.

No one was hurt, but the incident was a blow to Boeing, which withdrew from service its entire fleet of Dreamliners for several months earlier this year due to separate concerns that lithium-ion batteries on board could cause fires.

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"Boeing asks some companies operating 717, 737 NG, 747-400, 767 and 777 (models) to inspect their planes that are equipped with emergency locator transmitters (ELT) made by Honeywell," the US aviation giant said in a statement.

British authorities recommended earlier this month that the distress beacons onboard all Boeing Dreamliners be disabled, after identifying the devices as the likely cause of the incident.

In a preliminary report on the blaze, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that detailed analysis of the beacon on the new generation plane had shown "some indications of disruption to the battery cells."

Since then, both US and European aviation regulators have ordered airlines to remove or inspect the Honeywell-made beacons on all their 787 planes.

Some 6,000 Honeywell ELTs have been installed on planes -- both Boeing and Airbus -- but the AAIB said it was the first time that one of these devices has been involved in a blaze.

So far, Japan's All Nippon Airways and US firm United Airlines have found damage to the battery wirings on several 787 emergency beacons.

© 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jul 29, 2013