FAA on Thursday issued a new airworthiness directive requiring all U.S.-based operators of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner passenger jet to either inspect or remove the aircraft's fixed emergency locator transmitter (ELT).
The ELT, manufactured by Honeywell, transmits the location of the aircraft in the event of a crash, and was found to be the possible cause of a fire onboard a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787 at Heathrow International Airport earlier this month. The agency said the AD was issued to "prevent a fire in the aft crown of the airplane, or to detect and correct discrepancies within the ELT that could cause such a fire."
United Airlines, the only U.S.-based carrier operating the 787, is currently the only airline affected by the AD, as it does not require foreign carriers to perform the inspections.
Operators are instructed to inspect the ELT, ELT battery and associated wiring, and make any corrective actions as needed. The AD also gives the option of simply removing the ELT from the aircraft, because the agency does not require commercial aircraft to be equipped with that component.
FAA said the AD is considered an interim action, and acknowledged there are ELTs installed on various other aircraft types which could require further rulemaking.
According to a spokesperson from Boeing, the airframe manufacturer is currently working closely with the agency, and the new AD mandates actions that the company recommended to operators last week.
"We are confident the 787 is safe, and we stand behind its overall integrity," Boeing said in an emailed statement.
Related: U.K. Safety Officials Target ELT in Boeing 787 Fire Investigation