Never Ending Headaches for Boeing, now the ELTs

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch – AAIB, is recommended to the Federal Aviation Administration – FAA, to deactivate all Boeing 787’s Emergency Locator Transmitters until “appropriate airworthiness actions can be completed”.

Last week’s fire onboard Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner fortunately occurred when the craft was parked at Heathrow Airport. Had it blazed during a flight, British investigators say, it would have been “a significant safety concern.”

The recommendation came on Thursday after the investigators said that the greatest damage to the parked Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner occurred around the aircraft’s Rescu406AFN emergency locator transmitter — or ELT — near the tail section of the plane.

Although is not clear if the fire was caused by the transmitter’s lithium-manganese dioxide batteries or a short near or around the transmitter, but recommended to the FAA to deactivate all Honeywell transmitters in all Boeing 787s fleet “until appropriate airworthiness actions” can be carried out.

In an statement, Boeing said it supported the British investigators’ recommendations — which it called “reasonable precautionary measures” — and was working to take appropriate action in response.

“We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity,” the company added.

ELT Battery could be the cause of Dreamliner fire

A different type of battery than the one that caused the worldwide grounding of the Dreamliner fleet could be this time the reason of the on board fire of an Ethiopian B787 last Friday at Heathrow Airport – UK.

We are talking about the Emergency Locator Transmitter – ELT Battery.  This device, used to locate the aircraft in case of accident, is powered by self contained batteries, independent of the lithium-ion ones that caused an electrical fire on board an All Nippon Airways 787 and several other incidents that caused the grounding of the Dreamliner fleet all over the world.

Manufactured by Honeywell International, the emergency locator transmitters had been under scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration, who recommended them being replaced because the device failed in tests, anyway ignition risk was not the cause of the failure.  Honeywell is now joining the U.S. investigators to determine if the model used on the Ethiopian Dreamliner is the one suspected of causing problems.

Investigators and safety officials said that this the first time that an ELT transmitter is investigated suspected of causing an aircraft fire.

Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant said that “Unless the company can say for sure that the incident is isolated to this particular aircraft, it’s not welcome news, the one systematic problem to plague the Dreamliner is that so many of its technologies are new that it is very difficult for the regulators to fully grasp all the changes,”

Capt. Ivan

This Plane Just Flew Over The UK WIthout A Pilot

"Flying Test Bed" - BAE Aerospace Systems Jetstream 31

“Flying Test Bed” – BAE Aerospace Systems Jetstream 31

The first pilotless flight over British airspace has been successfully completed.

Aerospace company BAE Systems flew a Jetstream 31 – dubbed the “flying test bed” – from Warton near Preston in Lancashire to Inverness in Scotland.

Strictly speaking, the flight was not unmanned — two pilots were in the cockpit as a precaution.

But as a BAE Systems spokesman said: “They were sitting there having a coffee. They did not have to do anything.”

The aircraft was controlled by a remote operator at Warton using advanced sensors and on-board robotic systems.

The flight was part of the £62 million ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) programme, which is backed by the government.

Previous test flights were over the Irish Sea but this flight, made last month, was the first over airspace used by other aircraft. The Jetsream is able to use its “sense and avoid” system to avoid collisions.

The aircraft can also detect and avoid bad weather conditions and can relay air traffic control instructions to the pilot on the ground via satellite.

Although unmanned passenger flights are probably many years off, the programme could in the shorter term be used for such things as search and rescue operations far out at sea.

ASTRAEA programme director Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal said: the work being done ” will likely impact all of us in the next five, 10, 20 years as unmanned aircraft and associated technology develop and become a part of everyday life”.

He went on: “These latest trials help prove the technology we need to routinely operate unmanned aircraft in our airspace and also help the regulators develop the framework in which the aircraft can operate.”

Business and energy minister Michael Fallon said: “We welcome this pioneering flight at the end of the ASTRAEA programme.

“ASTRAEA has made significant achievements, placing the UK industry in a good position globally on unmanned aircraft and the development of regulations for their civil use.”

Source:  The Huffington Post

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