Investigators eye emergency locator in Boeing 787 fire

Honeywell International Inc., the maker of electronic parts for the Boeing Co. 787, was asked to join a U.K. probe of last week’s Dreamliner fire at London’s Heathrow airport.

“We’ve sent technical experts to Heathrow to assist with the investigation,” Steve Brecken, a spokesman for Honeywell, said in an e-mail. “At this time it is premature to speculate on the cause of the fire.”

Honeywell fell 0.5 percent to $81.98 at 1:57 p.m. in New York. The stock dropped earlier after Dow Jones reported that investigators are examining whether the emergency locator played a role in the July 12 fire on the Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise 787.

Boeing shares advanced today, rising as much as 3.7 percent and recovering most of their July 12 loss, after the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch saw no direct link with the fire and battery blazes that grounded the 787 fleet this year. Honeywell will work with Boeing and the AAIB as well as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board to assist in determining the cause of the fire, Brecken said.

Brecken, in a phone interview, declined to comment beyond the statement.

Chicago-based Boeing, whose 787 Dreamliner resumed flying in April after three months of worldwide grounding, has a team on the ground at Heathrow to investigate the blaze. No one was on board the plane at the time of the fire and Ethiopian Airlines is still flying its three other 787s while awaiting the results of the probe.

Grounded fleet

Through June, Boeing had delivered 66 Dreamliners to 11 airlines and a leasing company, including six to United Continental. The 787 has a list price of $206.8 million.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded the fleet on Jan. 16 after the lithium-ion batteries overheated on two aircraft, with one catching fire in Boston with no passengers aboard. In that incident, a Japan Airlines Co. 787 experienced what U.S. safety investigators called an uncontrolled chain reaction that charred the battery. The second malfunction occurred on an ANA Holdings plane that took off from Japan and was forced to make an emergency landing.

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