Investigators today have called on the FAA to conduct a safety review of installations of similar Lithium-powered ELTs in other aircrafts, after it emerged that last week's fire aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was found in its emergency locator transmitter (ELT).
In a statement, Boeing described the recommendation for the beacons to be immobilised as "a precautionary measure". It said:
The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.
As a party to the investigation, Boeing supports the two recommendations from the UK 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 co-ordination with our customers, suppliers, and other commercial airplane manufacturers.
We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity.
Detailed examination of the ELT [emergency locator transmitter] 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.
In the case of an electrical short, the same batteries could provide the energy for an ignition and suffer damage in the subsequent fire.
US firm Honeywell has been asked to join the investigation into the fire on a Boeing 787 at Heathrow Airport amid reports of a probe into whether the plane's emergency transmitter played a role.
The transmitter sends a signal with the plane's location if it is involved in a crash.
Honeywell would not specify why authorities asked it to participate in the investigation.
"It's far too premature to speculate on the cause, or draw conclusions," spokesman Steve Brecken said. He directed other questions to the US National Transportation Safety Board, which is helping with the investigation.
Ethiopian Airlines said it would continue to operate its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after one of them caught fire at Heathrow airport.
The company's public relations department said: "We have not grounded any of our aircraft. The incident at Heathrow happened while the plane was on the ground and had been for more than eight hours and was not related to flight safety."
Asked whether the airline has determined the cause of the fire, Ethiopian Airlines said: "There is no new development. No safety issue. The incident is being investigated to determine cause of smoke."