Boeing asks airlines to inspect 787 fire-extinguishing bottles

/ August 16, 2013 08:40

Boeing asked airlines to inspect their 787 Dreamliner jets to ensure proper configuration of fire-extinguishing bottles after this week uncovering a defect it said stemmed from an error that occurred at a supplier.

Boeing has provided 787 operators with directions on addressing improperly configured bottles, with the inspection of each plane likely to take only a few minutes, Rob Henderson, a company spokesman, said today. The fault doesn’t present an immediate flight-safety issue, Boeing said.

The 787 suffered its latest setback earlier this week after All Nippon Airways (ANA), the model’s biggest operator, found wiring defects in the fire-suppression system on three aircraft.

Boeing’s flagship jet, which made its commercial debut in 2011, is already under scrutiny following a fire in London last month that U.K. investigators linked to an emergency beacon.

“The safety of crews and passengers on board our airplanes is our top priority,” Henderson said in the e-mail. “Improperly configured components are not acceptable and this issue is being addressed promptly.”

The bottle-configuration error occurred at a facility run by supplier Kidde, a United Technologies unit, he said.

“We are aware of the issue and we are working with Boeing to help resolve the matter,” Dan Coulom, a spokesman for UTC Aerospace Systems — which includes Kidde — said by e-mail to Bloomberg.

ANA detected the fault in a flight that was due to depart Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Aug. 14. The defect would trigger the wrong extinguisher in the event of a blaze in one of the two engines of the composite-material Dreamliner, ANA said.

The bottles are not the only means of putting out a fire in the engines, and there are multiple redundancies within the extinguishing system, Henderson said.

The 787 resumed service with ANA and Japan Airlines on June 1 after a global grounding spurred by meltdowns in lithium-ion batteries on the carriers’ jets. Boeing had handed over 74 Dreamliners to 13 customers through Aug. 15, the company said on its website, with more than 30,000 flights flown.

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