LONDON, July 18 Aviation regulators should
conduct a safety review of lithium-powered emergency locator
beacons in all aircraft types, said a British report into a fire
on a Boeing Dreamliner jet in London.
Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is
leading the investigation into a blaze that broke out on a
parked Ethiopian Airlines jet at London's Heathrow
airport last Friday.
The report, published on Thursday, said the fire occurred in
the upper portion of the rear fuselage where the Dreamliner's
emergency locator transmitter (ELT) device, made by U.S. firm
Honeywell, is located.
There are no other aircraft system in this area of the plane
which, with the aircraft unpowered, contained stored energy
capable of causing such a fire, the British agency said.
The AAIB also recommended that the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration ensure the power is turned off in all
Honeywell-made ELT systems in Boeing Dreamliners. A source close
to the probe said this could mean removing the ELT's batteries.
"Detailed examination of the ELT has shown some indications
of disruption to the battery cells. It is not clear however,
whether the combustion in the area of the ELT was initiated by a
release of energy within the batteries or by an external
mechanism such as an electrical short," AAIB said in the report,
known as a special bulletin said.
"In the case of an electrical short, the same batteries
could provide the energy for an ignition and suffer damage in
the subsequent fire."
The latest fire on board Boeing's new composite airliner
comes hot on the heels of a four-month grounding linked to
problems with much larger lithium-ion batteries on the plane.
The battery linked to the London fire is made by New York-based
Ultralife Corp, according to an industry source.