Canada draws up directive on beacons in 787 fire investigation

Sat Aug 3, 2013 3:27pm EDT

Emergency services attend to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, after it caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport in west London July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Emergency services attend to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, after it caught fire at Britain's Heathrow airport in west London July 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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(Reuters) - Canada's air transport regulator is drawing up a safety directive concerning the emergency beacons at the center of an investigation into a fire on a parked Boeing 787 Dreamliner last month, it said on Saturday.

The directive - which would list action that airlines or manufacturers must take - will take into account inspections done by manufacturer Honeywell International and its Canadian sub-contractor Instrumar Ltd, Transport Canada said in a statement.

"Transport Canada is developing an airworthiness directive in consultation with the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency)," the statement said.

"The airworthiness directive would be based on the information collected from the equipment inspections mandated by the FAA, information already provided by Honeywell, and the results of (Transport Canada's) inspections of Honeywell and Instrumar."

Emergency Locator Transmitters - designed to help locate an aircraft in the event of a crash - marketed by Honeywell have emerged as a key focus of the investigation into a blaze which caused serious damage to a parked 787 jet owned by Ethiopian Airlines at London's Heathrow airport on July 12.

The FAA has ordered inspections on the beacons in 787s, and Boeing last week expanded the inspections to cover more than 1,000 aircraft of all types that are fitted with the devices.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Canadian directive would expand inspections to cover all types of planes that use the suspect emergency transmitters, including jets from Boeing, Europe's Airbus and Dassault Aviation.

Although the 787 is designed and manufactured in the United States, Transport Canada is the lead safety agency on the beacons, which are manufactured in Newfoundland.

An earlier model of Honeywell beacon faced scrutiny from Canada's regulator in a previous airworthiness directive in 2009.

It called for suspect parts to be modified or replaced after tests found that two units were unable to broadcast the emergency homing signal on the right frequency.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Tim Hepher; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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