Honeywell, a member of the investigation team, says the RESCU 406 was certified in 2005 and is flying on “a number of” other aircraft models in addition to the 787. “We’ve not seen nor experienced a single reported issue on this product-line,” the company has previously said. The AAIB says Honeywell has produced “some 6,000 units of this design” for a variety of aircraft types, but that the July 12 incident is “the only significant thermal event” experienced.
The AAIB is also calling on the FAA and other regulators to conduct safety reviews on installations of lithium-powered ELTs on other aircraft.
“Large transport aircraft do not typically carry the means of fire detection and suppression in the space above cabin ceilings and had this event occurred in flight, it could pose a significant safety concern and raise challenges for the cabin crew in tackling the resulting fire,” the AAIB says.
The AAIB notes that turning off the aircraft’s ELT “does not mean that a plane is ‘invisible’ as planes also have portable ELTs (for example on dinghies if they crash at sea).”
Honeywell in a statement, says, “As a safety-first focused company, we support the AAIB’s proposal and will offer assistance to Boeing and the airlines if needed. The investigation continues, and it’s premature to jump to conclusions. Temporarily addressing the ELTs on Boeing 787s as a precautionary measure is prudent. The Boeing 787 ELT product action is a straightforward process, and we do not anticipate any material financial impact to Honeywell. We also support conducting safety reviews for installations of any lithium battery-powered ELTs from the variety of manufacturers who sell them.”
In a separate statement, Boeing notes, “As a party to the investigation, Boeing supports the two recommendations from the 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,” Boeing adds.
[Ed note: Story updated to include Honeywell’s comment]