Honeywell says would remove 787 beacons if asked as fire probed

Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:23pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Honeywell International Inc (HON.N: Quote) on Wednesday said it would temporarily remove its emergency locator beacons from Boeing (BA.N: Quote) 787s if asked to do so under recommendations that sources said British authorities could release within days as part of an initial report on a fire on a Dreamliner jet in London last week.

Investigators have been looking at several components, including a lithium manganese battery in the Honeywell emergency locator transmitter (ELT), as possible causes for the fire that caused extensive damage to a parked Ethiopian Airlines ETHA.UL 787 in London last Friday. The battery is made by New York-based Ultralife Corp (ULBI.O: Quote), a source told Reuters on Monday.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is leading the investigation, may suggest temporarily removing the devices from the new Boeing Dreamliners while the probe continues, according to one source familiar with the probe who was not authorized to speak publicly.

A second source familiar with the investigation said the AAIB could issue a report in the next few days that includes some recommendations, without giving details on the proposals.

Honeywell's emergency beacons are in use on a wide range of airplanes.

The latest fire on board Boeing's new composite airliner comes on the heels of a three-month grounding linked to problems with much larger lithium-ion batteries on the plane.

Sources close to the investigation say it is turning out to be more complex than initially expected given that the fire caused severe damage to the upper portion of the jet's rear fuselage. As in the earlier probe, investigators are finding it difficult to pinpoint the cause of the fire.

A spokeswoman for the AAIB on Wednesday reiterated that Honeywell's ELT was one of several components being looked at in detail as part of the investigation, but said it would be premature to speculate on the causes of the incident.   Continued...

A view of the corporate sign outside the Honeywell International Automation and Control Solutions manufacturing plant in Golden Valley, Minnesota, January 28, 2010. REUTERS/ Eric Miller