Monday, 28 May, 2018

USA and Europe order global 737 aircraft engine checks

12:45pm 12:45pm
Sammy Stanley | 22 April, 2018, 17:04

Bank executive Jennifer Riordan died after being sucked half-out of a USA passenger jet flying at 32,000 feet when shrapnel from a blown engine smashed a cabin window.

Ms Riordan, a mother of two from New Mexico, died despite attempts to revive her on the flight.

As the investigation continues, the Federal Avation Administration says it will issue a directive ordering inspections of the same engines once they've made a certain number of take-offs and landings.

The FAA said airlines have 20 days to carry out ultrasonic inspections of fan blades on CFM56-7B engines that have made more than 30,000 flights. CFM, which issued a warning about the possibility of flaws in the fan blades previous year, reported that it has manufactured 30,000 of the engines.

The requirement from the agency comes after the engine maker, CFM International, issued a service bulletin recommending that more engines be inspected. He also said that when the fire fighters arrived at the scene there was a small fire in one of the engines due to fuel leak. "They didn't get the inspections done, and when the FAA was going to put out (an order) they all objected".

The plane shook and rattled while the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, fought to land it safely.

The manufacturer had issued two service bulletins previous year calling for additional inspections of fan blades on the CFM56-7B engines following a similar episode in 2016 on another Southwest plane.

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"When Chase Field was here, there was so much more downtown", Beeville businessman Mark Parsons said. The engine manufacturer estimates today's corrective action affects 352 engines in the USA and 681 engines worldwide.

Inspections can be conducted without having to dismantle an engine and it takes about four hours per engine.

The engine type that blew apart power more than 6,700 Boeing 737 twin engine jets around the world.

The inspections ordered are a sharp step-up from actions by both the European and US regulators after a Southwest flight in August 2016 made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing. One fix shop said new blades cost $50,000 each while overhauled ones are less than $30,000.

Though the FAA isn't requiring inspections of engines with fewer than 30,000 cycles, it said in its statement that it is leaving the door open to "further rulemaking". Each CFM56 engine has 24 blades.

It's too soon to determine what happened, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt. There are now about 14,000 CFM56-7B engines in operation. Some critics have questioned why the FAA did not move faster, when European regulators issued an April 2 directive ordering similar CFM56-7B inspections within nine months.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the plane was inspected on Sunday and nothing appeared out of order.

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