FAA To Issue 787 ELT Inspection Order
The FAA says it will issue an Airworthiness Directive this week to operators of the Boeing 787, requiring an inspection of the airplane's emergency locator transmitters. "These inspections would ask operators to inspect for proper wire routing and any signs of wire damage or pinching, as well as inspect the battery compartment for unusual signs of heating or moisture," the FAA said in a statement over the weekend. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch has recommended that operators disable the ELT systems "until appropriate airworthiness actions can be completed." Boeing said it supports that recommendation, and called it a "reasonable precautionary measure." The ELTs are not required on the airplanes in the U.S., but some countries do require them.
The AAIB also said the FAA should conduct a safety review of lithium-powered ELT systems in other aircraft types. About 6,000 ELTs with the same design as the one in the 787 are installed in aircraft around the world, but no other "significant thermal event" has been reported, the AAIB said. Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel told Reuters that all 68 of the airplanes in operation have the ELT installed because all the airline customers chose that option. Boeing installs the beacons in various places in the aircraft, depending on the airline's preference and the home country's regulations, according to Reuters. A fire in the ELT compartment damaged an unoccupied Ethiopian Airlines 787 while it was parked at Heathrow Airport in London on July 12.