FAA To Require Boeing 787 ELT Inspections

The FAA is crafting an airworthiness directive requiring mandatory inspections of the Boeing 787’s emergency locator transmitters following a fire on board a Dreamliner parked at London Heathrow International Airport earlier this month.

The fire aboard the Ethopian Airlines 787 on July 12 burned the top of the jetliner's fuselage in an area where the Honeywell-made 406-MHz ELTs are housed. Boeing and the FAA quickly determined the fire was unrelated to the backup batteries that grounded the entire 787 fleet worldwide earlier this year.

It remains unclear how the fire near the top of the 787’s composite fuselage started. The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch noted that the Dreamliner’s ELTs contain batteries that are separate from the airplane’s electrical power and may have been the source of the fire. The AAIB is recommending inspections of 6,000 similar ELTs installed in aircraft around the world.

The FAA does not require ELTs on large commercial airplanes but some countries do require them. All 787 customers to date have opted for ELTs. The proposed inspections will be mandatory, and operators can expect a final airworthiness directive within days.

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