Japan Air to Continue Using 787 Beacons After Completing Checks

Japan Airlines Co., the second-biggest Boeing Co. 787 operator, said it finished checks on the emergency beacons on its fleet of nine Dreamliners and is maintaining their use on the aircraft.

Japan Airlines found no faults with the beacons after starting a self-inspection on July 19, Taro Namba, a Tokyo-based spokesman at the carrier, said by telephone today. ANA Holdings Inc. is still carrying out checks on its 20 Dreamliner planes and may not finish the process till next week, Ryosei Nomura, a company spokesman, said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said last week it is working with Chicago-based Boeing to develop instructions for beacon inspections as investigators probe reasons for a July 12 fire on one of the 787s in London. The U.S., which hasn’t called for the deactivation of the beacon as U.K. safety authorities did, said the checks will be made mandatory through an airworthiness directive to be issued “in the coming days.”

The directive would apply only to the six 787s flown by United Continental Holdings Inc. since no other U.S. carrier operates the jet. Other nations’ aviation regulators typically follow the agency’s lead, as they did in January when the FAA grounded the aircraft after lithium-ion batteries melted down in two 787s’ power systems.

Smashed Wire

A blaze scorched the composite skin of an Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise 787 on July 12, which was parked at London’s Heathrow airport with its ground power switched off. Investigators are examining whether a wire smashed under a beacon battery cover caused a short-circuit, a person familiar with the probe said.

The emergency locator transmitter beacon, using lithium-batteries, is a suspect because it’s the only power source in the area of the fire, though investigators are still probing whether the device combusted or was set alight by an outside source. The incident is the first involving more than 6,000 such Honeywell International Inc. devices, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.

Thomson Airways, based in the U.K., removed the beacons within hours of recommendations to do so from the U.K. safety authorities.

United had performed checks on the emergency locators without finding anything, spokeswoman Christen David said last week. LOT Polish Airlines SA, the first European carrier to get the 787, had also checked the beacons and was not deactivating them as they were fine, spokesman Robert Moren said.

China Southern Airlines Co., one of the two 787 operators in China, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed Bloomberg News questionnaire today. Hainan Airlines Co., the other airline flying the Dreamliner, had received Boeing’s briefing on the ELT investigation, it said in an e-mail. The carrier will keep monitoring the progress of the investigation, it said.

Rohit Nandan, chairman of Air India Ltd., which operates seven Dreamliners, today didn’t respond to two calls and a text message to his mobile phone seeking comments.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.