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Monday, September 17, 2012

FAA to Issue Airworthiness Directive for GEnx Jet Engines

FAA to Issue Airworthiness Directive for GEnx Jet Engines

The National Transportation Safety Board is asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue an airworthiness directive to require ultrasonic inspection for all aircraft equipped with GEnx-1B and GEnx-2B engines before further flight.

NTSB’s recommendations come following recent incidents where GEnx engines installed on Boeing 787s and a 747-8 were found to have damage on their fan midshafts.

"Safety is the agency’s top priority. Inspections already have been completed on all passenger airplanes (none of which are U.S. airlines). Atlas Cargo Airlines is the only operator with two U.S. registered aircraft. We understand one inspection was completed today (Friday) with no findings and the second aircraft will be inspected over the weekend. The FAA will soon issue an emergency airworthiness directive and will take appropriate action. The agency will continue to review the recommendations and coordinate closely with the NTSB and GE as part of the investigation,” FAA said in an emailed statement.

In July, NTSB initiated an investigation of an engine failure that occurred on a Boeing 787 during a pre-delivery taxi test in South Carolina. The investigation is ongoing, though NTSB has since stated that the fan midshaft had a crack on it.

On August 31st, a Boeing 787 that had not yet flown was found to have a similar crack on the fan midshaft of one of its GEnx-1B engine. Following that incident, a Boeing 747-8F operated by Air Bridge Cargo experienced an engine failure during the takeoff roll in Shanghai, China. An inspection of the GEnx-1B engine showed similar damage on the fan midshaft.

"The parties to our investigation -- the FAA, GE and Boeing -- have taken many important steps and additional efforts are in progress to ensure that the fleet is inspected properly," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "We are issuing this recommendation today because of the potential for multiple engine failures on a single aircraft and the urgent need for the FAA to act immediately."

GE has developed a field ultrasonic inspection method to specifically inspect the fan midshaft. NTSB said all in-service and spare GEnx-1B and GEnx-2B engines on passenger aircraft have been inspected since the incidents. There are approximately 43 GEnx-2B engines on 747-8F cargo aircraft that have not yet been inspected.

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