Following an uncontained engine failure and fire as a British Airways 777 jet took off in Las Vegas last September, the Federal Aviation Administration is initially mandating inspections of a small number of in-service engines. These are expected to be completed this week.
Following an uncontained engine failure and fire as a Boeing-built British Airways 777 jet took off in Las Vegas last September, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is initially mandating inspections of just six specific engines of similar age, configuration and usage flying in the U.S.
The FAA airworthiness directive, set to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, requires an inspection of three metal disks in the innards of the six GE-90 engines, and replacement of the parts if any anomaly is found.
GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said only one of the six engines listed by the FAA remains to be inspected and that one will be done this week.
Kennedy said GE anticipates inspecting a second small set of engines once the first set of inspections is complete, and it expects another FAA airworthiness directive to make this mandatory.
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The required ultrasonic inspections are conducted without removing the engines from the wings of the jets.
In the Sept. 8 incident, a metal disk in the high pressure compressor section of the engine core broke apart explosively on take-off, shooting out hot metal fragments that pierced the engine, the pod surrounding the engine and the wing of the airplane and igniting a serious engine fire.
The pilot aborted the take-off, slammed on the brakes and ordered an evacuation. All 157 passengers and 13 crew on board were able to exit safely on emergency-escape slides from the right side of the aicraft as fire engulfed the left side.
The engine involved in this first uncontained failure of any GE-90 was one of the first built for the initial 777s after 1995.
About 400 engines of this early GE-90 type are now in service on 167 airplanes. More recently built 777s have a different configuration.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is in charge of the accident investigation, has not released any information on whether the initial inspections turned up any anomalies.
A pre-publication copy of the FAA mandate states that the root cause of the initial crack in the disk that broke apart is still unknown but that once this is determined, “we might consider additional rulemaking.”