The Federal Aviation Administration says that the move will affect approximately 14 Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft operated by U.S.-based carriers.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) affecting some Boeing Dreamliner aircraft equipped with Rolls-Royce engines. The order will immediately limit the range of Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Boeing planes outfitted with certain Rolls-Royce Trent Engines.
The directive covers Rolls Royce Trent 1000 series A2, C2 and E2 jet engines. According to the FAA, the unusual move will apply to an estimated “14 airplanes of US registry.”
The AD was issued after the manufacturer reported that in a potential situation in which one engine fails, the excess demands on the remaining engine for a prolonged period of operation could cause both engines to fail, possibly resulting in a “a forced landing.” The FAA announced that it has “been aware of numerous reports of engine inspection findings of cracked blades resulting in unscheduled engine removals” involving the engines included in the directive.
“This AD requires revising the airplane flight manual to limit extended operations (ETOPS),” the FAA detailed in its April 17 directive. “This AD was prompted by a report from the engine manufacturer indicating that after an engine failure, prolonged operation at high thrust settings on the remaining engine during an ETOPS diversion may result in failure of the remaining engine before the diversion can be safely completed. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.”
The new rules will require the affected aircraft to be limited to routes in which an alternative airport can be reached within 140 minutes of any potential emergency. The directive means that these passenger planes are immediately prohibited from flying most transatlantic and transpacific flights.
Although the restrictions only affect a handful of the Dreamliners currently in service, the newly imposed route limitations could still prove to be an expensive proposition for airlines. Fortunately, the strict reductions in range might be short-lived.
“This AD is interim action,” the FAA noted in its decision. “The manufacturer is currently developing a modification that will address the unsafe condition identified in this AD. Once this modification is developed, approved, and available, we might consider additional rule-making.”