Boeing asks for beacon checks on up to 1,200 jets

Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:01pm EDT
 
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By Tim Hepher and Siva Govindasamy

PARIS/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N: Quote) has asked airlines to inspect up to 1,200 aircraft across their fleets to gather data on Honeywell (HON.N: Quote) emergency beacons that have come under scrutiny following a fire on a parked 787 Dreamliner two weeks ago.

The blaze caused serious damage to the jet owned by Ethiopian Airlines at London's Heathrow on July 12.

Between 1,100 and 1,200 Boeing aircraft of all sizes have been fitted with the beacons. But Boeing is asking that airlines inspect as many as possible and report back within 10 days to help regulators decide what action to take, if any.

"Boeing is asking specific operators of 717, Next-Generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777s to inspect aircraft with the Honeywell fixed emergency locator transmitters," a Boeing spokesman said in an emailed statement late on Sunday.

"The purpose of these inspections is to gather data to support potential rule-making by regulators," he added.

British accident investigators traced the fire on the Ethiopian plane to the area housing one of the units and recommended worldwide inspections of all lithium battery-powered emergency locator transmitters.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration instructed airlines on Thursday to remove or inspect Honeywell fixed emergency beacons in the model which caught fire, the 787, but has not so far widened its mandatory checks to other models.

On Monday, Honeywell said it fully supports the inspections recommended by regulators and noted that it is cooperating with the ongoing investigation of the Heathrow fire. The company noted the cause of the fire has not been conclusively determined and that its Emergency Locator Transmitters, or ELTs, have been in use since the mid-2000s and "have never before had any fire/heat related issues reported."   Continued...

 
Invited guests for the world premiere of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are reflected in the fuselage of the aircraft at the 787 assembly plant in Everett, Washington, July 8, 2007. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo