Air accident investigators have identified a battery within an emergency locator device as the cause of a fire onboard an Ethiopian Airlines’ Dreamliner at Heathrow last week.
The fire broke out on the parked Boeing 787 on Friday (July 12) causing both of Heathrow’s runways to be closed for around 90 minutes.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that the cause of this fire has now been traced to a battery within the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). This is not the same faulty battery pack which caused all Dreamliners to be grounded from January to April.
AAIB has made two safety recommendations following the fire on the Ethiopian Airlines’ 787. These are to deactivate the ELT on Dreamliners until the problem is solved, and also asking for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators to conduct a safety review into ELT systems on other types of aircraft.
“The history of this ELT product line indicates that a thermal event is extremely rare and this incident occurred on the ground while the aircraft was unoccupied,” said the AAIB in its latest report on the incident.
“However large transport aircraft do not typically carry the means of fire detection or suppression in the space above the 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.”