US orders 'urgent' fix on Boeing 787 Dreamliners
UNITED States officials have ordered Boeing to fix engines on some of its 787 Dreamliner airplanes to avoid sudden failure in icy conditions, calling the problem an "urgent safety issue".
Friday's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) directive concerns a potential problem in General Electric's most advanced engines that affect 176 planes worldwide, following a January incident that caused an engine on a Boeing's newest 787 passenger jet to fail mid-flight.
Although pilots on the Japan Airlines flight from Vancouver to Tokyo shut down the engine, the incident was not deemed serious because the plane's other engine, an older version of the same model, was not susceptible to the problem.
Boeing's most sophisticated passenger plane, the Dreamliner, is constructed largely of advanced lightweight carbon-fibre reinforced composite materials that reduce fuel use.
However, a series of problems have plagued the aircraft during development and production as well since its first commercial flight in late 2011.
The latest issue involves natural icing that occurs at lower altitudes in winter weather, Boeing spokesman Doug Adler said.
The FAA said it was ordering modifications that would prevent ice from accumulating on fan blades in GE's GEnx engines, making them rub against the engine casing, which can cause "damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines".
The FAA directive concerns only the 43 planes operated by US-based airlines.
However, other countries, which typically follow the FAA's regulations, are also expected to comply.
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", Mr Adler said.