British Authorities Say Transmitter to Blame in Boeing Fire

British accident investigators determined that an emergency device was probably responsible for the fire that broke out last week on an empty Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner parked at London’s Heathrow Airport and advised airlines to disable it on all planes, reports The Los Angeles Times.

In addition, Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch issued a “special bulletin” Thursday urging U.S. regulators to conduct an extensive safety review.

The Federal Aviation Administration will now have to decide what to do about the device, which is installed on the worldwide problem-plagued 787 fleet and thousands of other commercial airplanes.

The British accident investigation team’s initial three-page report outlines what happened on the Ethiopian Airlines plane and its emergency locator transmitter, which emits signals to emergency crews in crisis situations.

The transmitter model, made by Honeywell International Inc., is installed on the top of the 787 near the tail of the plane, where the fire burned Friday. The 787 contains a set of chemical batteries using lithium-manganese dioxide.

“Indications of disruption to the battery cells,” the report said. “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.”

Honeywell said the transmitter has been certified by the FAA since 2005, and added that temporarily disabling the devices “as a precautionary measure is prudent.”

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