Boeing Backs UK Air Accident Investigation Branch Recommendations

The agency issued them July 18 in response to the fire six days earlier on board an unoccupied Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft parked at London Heathrow airport.

Boeing issued a statement saying it supports two recommendations issued July 18 by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch in response to a July 12 fire on board an unoccupied Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft parked at London Heathrow airport. The plane was unpowered at the time. Someone reported smoke coming from the back of the plane, and firefighters who entered the aircraft encountered thick smoke and had to break through ceiling panels at the rear of the aircraft to extinguish the fire, according to the branch's report.

NSTB sent investigators to participate in the investigation of the incident, which damaged the aircraft but caused no injuries. The only aircraft system located where the fire began is an Emergency Locator Transmitter. The branch’s report says more than 6,000 units of this type of ELT have been installed on several types of aircraft, and this Heathrow incident is the only significant thermal event involving it that has occurred.

The recommendations ask the FAA to 1) initiate action for making inert the Honeywell International RESCU406AFN fixed Emergency Locator Transmitter in Boeing 787 aircraft until appropriate airworthiness actions can be completed, and 2) conduct safety reviews of lithium-powered ELTs on other aircraft types and take airworthiness actions where appropriate.

"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority," Boeing's statement says. "As a party to the investigation, Boeing supports the two recommendations from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which we think are reasonable precautionary measures to take as the investigation proceeds. We are working proactively to support the regulatory authorities in taking appropriate action in response to these recommendations, in coordination with our customers, suppliers, and other commercial airplane manufacturers. We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity."

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