Airline regulators call for emergency inspections of Boeing 737 engines

- A Monitor Report 22 Apr, 2018 | 4104 Views|-+

Regulators expected to require inspections sooner, and of more engines, than previously proposed.

U.S. and European aviation regulators concurrently imposed emergency inspection requirements for the type of jet engine that broke apart in Tuesday’s fatal Southwest Airlines accident, calling for more engines to be scrutinized, on a faster timetable, than previously contemplated.

Accident investigators believe the engine on April accident broke apart because a fatigue crack on the interior part of a fan blade caused the component to separate, triggering an uncontained engine failure that spewed parts into the exterior of the plane, broke a cabin window and killed passenger Jennifer Riordan.

Unnerved by such an unusual sequence of events, regulators and industry officials have taken another look at safety and maintenance standards for the affected engine, the CFM56-7B, an industry workhorse that powers many Boeing 737 jetliners.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it is requiring ultrasound inspection within 20 days for some older engines, the same day European air-safety regulators and the manufacturer issued their own regulations and guidelines.

The FAA requirements affect nearly 1,000 engines in the U.S. and Europe, roughly 150 of which have already been inspected, according to people familiar with the details.

The engine failure and emergency landing of Southwest Flight 1380 on Tuesday also has sparked discussions among regulators, industry officials and maintenance companies about potential broader changes to the current system for alerts when engine-inspection requirements are revised or enhanced, people familiar with the matter said.

Under the new FAA requirements, ultrasound inspections have to be completed on several hundred older engines within three weeks. The agency is considering requiring such inspections of up to an additional 2,000 newer engines by August.

The FAA intends to issue inspection requirements within the next week or two for all of the engines included in the manufacturer’s recommendations, according to a person familiar with its plans.

The regulatory activity comes as airlines and maintenance companies are already rushing to complete inspections amid increased workloads, the result of world-wide growth in air travel.

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