FAA to order airworthiness directive on 787s

WASHINGTON (WCIV) -- The Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday said it was working with Boeing to inspect the Emergency Locator Transmitters onboard its 787 aircraft.

British investigators found batteries that power the ELTs sparked a fire aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight at London's Heathrow airport earlier this month.

According to an FAA release, the inspections would focus on wire routing and signs of damage or pinching, as well as checking the battery compartments for abnormal signs of heating and moisture.

"The FAA is preparing to issue an Airworthiness Directive in the coming days that would make these inspections mandatory. Federal Aviation Regulations do not require large commercial aircraft in scheduled service to be equipped with these devices," the FAA statement said.

The FAA said it was also going to be discussing its plans with other regulatory agencies around the globe.

The FAA said it was also still actively involved in the Heathrow investigation, working with the AAIB and Boeing and Honeywell.

The fire started aboard a parked 787 that had been powered down for several hours

The AAIB reports says firefighters had to enter the aircraft to battle the fire because foam sprays on the outside of the aircraft were not working to extinguish the fire.

When firefighters entered the Boeing aircraft, they found a cabin filled with smoke. There was evidence of fire above the ceiling panels.

A handheld Halon extinguisher was ineffective against the fire, but water hoses were able to quickly put out the small blaze.

Before the first signs of fire were noticed, crew members aboard the previous flights did not log any anomalies, the report states. A ground crew went through the process of disconnecting the plane from the power source at the airport.

That was at 5:40 a.m. July 12.

Ten hours later, an employee in the air tower spotted smoke coming from the 787 and notified Heathrow's fire department.

These are not the same batteries that led to the FAA's grounding of the 787 fleet in January. Fifty Dreamliners worldwide were grounded at that time because of battery malfunctions. Boeing later modified the jets with new batteries.

In April, an Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner made the first commercial flight since the grounding.

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