FAA orders urgent repairs on Boeing 787s with newest GE engine

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According to the FAA order issued yesterday, all airlines that operate 787 need to go through safety fixes or replace one of the latest engines with an older engine, until the issue is permanently resolved.

In 2015, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma had said in that the Technical Dispatch Reliability (TDR) of Air India’s Dreamliner fleet was lower than the average TDR due to frequent glitches in the aircraft while admitting that there have been technical delays on account of snags in these planes.

The latest issue is unrelated to the 2013 situation. Airlines must also brief pilots on preventing engine icing while flying above 12,500 feet within a week.

According to the FAA document, “Susceptibility to heavy fan blade rubs, if not corrected, could result in engine damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines”. The Dreamliner that was affected by the problem had a second engine which was an older model (GEnx-1B PIP1). When pilots suspect ice may be forming, they have to momentarily add power to each engine once every five minutes, the FAA said.

“Ice shed from the fan blades… causing the blades to rub against the fan case, resulting in engine vibration”, GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy told CNN. There are 43 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the USA alone that would be affected by the directive. While the FAA’s order applies only to USA operators, other nations typically follow the FAA’s lead on safety issues.

The FAA order affects about 176 Dreamliners at 29 airlines worldwide. Engines in production also are being altered.

But the engine suffered “substantial damage” in the January 29 incident, when ice on the fan blades broke loose, the FAA said.

The modification takes about 16 hours and involves grinding down the engine casing by about one-tenth of an inch to create more space for the fan blades and prevent rubbing, GE said.

GE first recommended the repairs earlier this month after it investigated the problem jointly with Boeing and “worked with the FAA on a plan to fully resolve it”, Adler said.

“Work mandated by the AD is already well under way with more than 40 engines complete”, he said, referring to the FAA’s airworthiness directive.

American Airlines has taken delivery of 15 of the planes.

The Dreamliner aircraft has a troubled service history.

Kim Earnest

The author Kim Earnest

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