Skip to main content

    UK investigators blame a new kind of battery for Ethiopian Airlines 787 fire

    UK investigators blame a new kind of battery for Ethiopian Airlines 787 fire

    Share this story

    Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
    Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner

    The fire that caused significant damage to an Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner sitting on the tarmac of London's Heathrow airport last week is now officially being blamed by British authorities on batteries — but not the same ones that led to the 787's months-long grounding earlier this year. This time, the focus is on an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) manufactured by Honeywell, which uses lithium-manganese batteries and sits in the upper rear portion of the aircraft's fuselage.

    ELTs, found on commercial and private aircraft around the world, are designed to emit a signal that can help locate a downed aircraft after a crash. The specific model found on the 787 is also used on a variety of other aircraft, so having the fire occur on a Dreamliner — a plane already suffering from a damaged reputation thanks to previous fires — appears to be an unlucky coincidence.

    The Dreamliner isn't the only plane using this part

    In the short term, the UK's accident investigation bureau, AAIB, is recommending that the 787's ELT be rendered "inert" until it can be properly fixed, noting that if the fire had occurred in mid-air, crew would have had a very difficult time putting it out considering its unusual location. The bureau is also recommending that all lithium battery-powered ELTs be checked out and revised for safety where necessary.

    Fires and explosions involving lithium batteries are rare, but not unheard of — stories of smartphones combusting in pockets appear on occasion, and it stands to reason that they same rules of physics apply to a battery inside of an aircraft component. "Detailed examination of the ELT and the possible mechanisms for the initiation and sustaining of the fire in this aircraft continues," the AAIB says.

    Today’s Storystream

    Feed refreshed 5:33 PM UTC Striking out

    Andrew Webster5:33 PM UTC
    Look at this Thing.

    At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

    The Verge
    Andrew Webster4:28 PM UTC
    Get ready for some Netflix news.

    At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

    Andrew Webster1:05 PM UTC
    Looking for something to do this weekend?

    Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

    A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
    Thermae Romae Novae.
    Image: Netflix
    Jay PetersSep 23
    Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

    Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

    Tom WarrenSep 23
    Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

    Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

    External Link
    If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

    Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

    Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

    External Link
    Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

    Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

    Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

    Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

    Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

    External Link
    Jay PetersSep 23
    Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

    Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

    “Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

    In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.