Published July 17, 2013
WASHINGTON – Honeywell International Inc on Wednesday said it had no orders to temporarily remove its emergency locator beacons from Boeing Co 787s, but would comply if asked to do so.
Investigators have been looking at several components, including a lithium manganese battery in the Honeywell emergency locator transmitter (ELT), as possible causes for the fire that damaged a parked Ethiopian Airlines jet in London last Friday.
Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is leading the investigation, may suggest temporarily removing the devices from the new Boeing Dreamliners while the probe continues, according to one source familiar with the probe.
The possible move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said that ELTs are not required for a plane to be certified for passenger flight.
The Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, said the AAIB is preparing to ask the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to assess the necessity of the devices on 787s.
Honeywell said the report was based on "anonymous speculation" and its officials had not been contacted by British or U.S. authorities involved in the investigation.
However, spokesman Steve Brecken said Honeywell always put safety first and "would support an action like this as a precautionary measure if our team, or the AAIB and NTSB (U.S. National Transportation Safety Board), determine it's necessary to do so."
Officials at the NTSB declined comment, referring queries to the AAIB. A spokesman with the FAA had no immediate comment.
The FAA also had no immediate response to the Journal's report that some FAA officials were arguing to shift jurisdiction for the fire investigation to the U.S. agency, since the Ethiopian plane was parked, rather than in flight, and was certified by the FAA.
A spokesman for the AAIB on Tuesday confirmed that Honeywell had been invited to join the investigation, and said the company's ELT was one of several components being looked at in detail as part of the investigation.
The spokesman said it would premature to speculate on the causes of the incident at this stage and declined to identify any other components that might be under scrutiny.
The ELT, which is positioned in the upper rear part of the 787, sends a signal that leads rescuers to downed aircraft.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott in Seattle; Editing by Gary Hill and Tim Dobbyn)