The FAA orders engine icing fixes on GEnx-powered Boeing 787 Dreamliners

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) to reduce the probability of engine damage due to fan ice shedding on certain 787 aircraft equipped with GEnx-1B engines.

Image copyright: A. Kwanten

On March 14, 2016, the FAA had already issued AD 2016-06-08 which was issued after an incident on the 29th of January 2016: a Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8, operating flight JL17 from Vancouver, Canada, to Tokyo Narita, Japan, was 140km east of Narita when Che crew had to shut down the #2 engine.

Partial fan ice shedding resulted in a fan imbalance that caused substantial damage to the engine and an in-flight non-restartable power loss. The engine involved was a General Electric GEnx-1B()/P2.

The engine damage appears to be a result of susceptibility to heavy fan blades rubs common to the GEnx-1B PIP2 engine. The #1 engine was a GEnx-1B PIP1 and only received minor damage during the event and continued to operate normally. The event occurred in icing conditions at an altitude of 20,000ft.

The urgency of this issue stems from the safety concern over continued safe flight and landing for planes that are powered by both GEnx-1B PIP2 engines operating in a similar environment as the occurrence aircraft. In this case both engines may be similarly damaged and unable to be restarted. 

The potential for double engine failure in flight is an urgent safety issue.

This AD (AD 2016-08-11) requires a revision of the AFM to provide the crew a revised fan ice removal procedure and a new associated mandatory crew briefing to reduce the possibility of engine damage due to fan ice shedding. 

For airplanes equipped with two GEnx-1B PIP2 engine with specified model and part numbers, this AD also requires reworking/replacing at least an engine.

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