EASA to mandate removal of 787 emergency locator transmitters

22 July, 2013 12:00

European Boeing 787 operators will be instructed to remove their emergency locator transmitters (ELT) following concerns raised by an investigation into a 787 fire at London Heathrow Airport.

On Thursday, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) recommended that Honeywell ELTs on all in-service Boeing 787s be made temporarily “inert” following a fire onboard an Ethiopian Airlines 787-8 last week at Heathrow.

Acting on this recommendation, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) head of communications Dominique Fouda told ATW that an airworthiness directive (AD) is going to be issued. Fouda was unable to give an immediate timeline for the AD.

“We are drafting an airworthiness directive that will require the ELT removal on the Boeing 787. This AD will be applicable in our area of responsibility, i.e. European airlines operating this aircraft,” Fouda said. “I believe there will also be a FAA directive, but this should be confirmed by the FAA.” FAA has not yet stated whether it will order 787 operators to disable or remove ELTs.

There are currently four registered European 787 operators—British Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Thomson Airways—that will be affected by the AD. Fouda confirmed that the AD will definitely mandate the removal of the ELT, rather than simply being made inert as called for by the AAIB.

The AAIB “leaves some room for interpretation,” Fouda said. “Being made inert can also mean remove, but we are definitely talking about removal.”

Under European rules, an aircraft type can be certified without an ELT, although it forms part of the required minimum equipment list for flight operations (see page 152). “To operate the aircraft you need the ELT,” Fouda said.

However, he added that the ELT can be “temporarily inoperative under certain conditions” for a limited number of flight cycles. He was unable to immediately specify this figure, but said that this rule also allows for temporary removal of the ELT.

 

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