All Nippon Airways removes ELTs on 787s for checks

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All Nippon Airways (ANA) has taken the initiative to remove the emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) from its fleet of Boeing 787s for checks, after a fire incident on board an Ethiopian Airlines 787 on 12 July.

The Japanese carrier started the process on 19 July, and expects the checks to take up to two weeks to complete, says a spokeswoman.

"We're checking to see if the ELTs are working correctly. This is done voluntarily and not a recommendation from the authorities," she says, adding that the inspections have not disrupted the carrier's 787 operations.

In the week ended 19 July, both ANA and Japan Airlines - the world's largest operators of the 787 - conducted "visual inspections" on their 787s and found no irregularities or safety threats. The checks focused on the rear of the aircraft.

"At this time we have not received any instructions from the Japan civil aviation bureau to do specific checks on the ELTs. If we do receive instructions, we will take the appropriate action," says a JAL spokesman.

ANA's decision to check on the ELTs comes after the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) identified the lithium-powered ELTs as the only system capable of igniting in the area of the Ethiopian 787 fire at London Heathrow airport. The AAIB's initial findings, however, did not pinpoint whether the battery was the source of the fire or was simply damaged as a result.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, meanwhile, is reviewing AAIB's recommendation to disconnect all Honeywell Rescue406 ELTs until the investigation establishes a cause. Honeywell has said it supports the recommendation as a "prudent" precaution.