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JAL will continue using ELTs in 787 fleet

Bloomberg

After completing an inspection of the emergency locator transmitter beacons on its fleet of nine Dreamliners, Japan Airlines Co. said it will continue using them on the aircraft.

The second-biggest Boeing Co. 787 operator found no faults with the ELTs after starting an inspection Friday, Taro Namba, a Tokyo-based spokesman at the carrier, said Monday. ANA Holdings Inc.’s inspection of the 20 Dreamliners in its fleet may not be completed till next week, company spokesman Ryosei Nomura said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said last week it is working with Chicago-based Boeing to develop instructions for ELT inspections as investigators probe reasons for a July 12 fire on one of the 787s in London. The U.S., which, unlike U.K. safety authorities, hasn’t called for the deactivation of the beacon, said the checks will be made mandatory through an airworthiness directive to be issued “in the coming days.”

The directive would apply only to the six 787s flown by United Continental Holdings Inc., since no other U.S. carrier operates the jet. Other nations’ aviation regulators typically follow the agency’s lead, as they did in January when the FAA grounded the aircraft after lithium-ion batteries melted down in two 787s’ power systems.

On July 12 a blaze scorched the composite skin of an Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise 787 parked at London’s Heathrow Airport with its ground power switched off. Investigators are examining whether a wire smashed under an ELT battery cover caused a short circuit, a source said.

The ELT, which uses lithium-ion batteries, is under suspicion because it’s the only power source in the area of the fire, though investigators are still probing whether the device was set alight by an outside source. The incident is the first involving more than 6,000 such Honeywell International Inc. devices, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.

Thomson Airways, based in the U.K., removed the beacons within hours of recommendation by the U.K. safety authorities.

Checks by United of the ELTs failed to turn up anything, spokeswoman Christen David said last week.