Sunday, July 29, 2012

Boeing and NTSB investigating 787 engine issue

Both Boeing and the NTSB are investigating an issue with a GEnx powered 787 that was about to conduct its first flight yesterday.  The aircraft in question is ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) for Air India.  This is the 2nd 787 built at the Boeing Charleston facility. Apparently a piece of debris fell out of the engine and landed on a grassy area next to the runway at Charleston.  The piece was apparently hot enough to spark a small fire that was promptly extinguished by the USAF fire fighting crew stationed at the joint use airport.

The investigation is in the early stages however I do think that this might be an issue that is either a one off manufacturing or maintenance issue issue with this particular aircraft and I have doubt that this would be a fleetwide issue as the GEnx-1B has been performing well up to now. I do suspect that this is more of a ground maintenance issue (perhaps something not secured properly) but the NTSB will have to make that final determination along with Boeing and GE.  At the time of the incident, ZA238 was doing taxi tests prior to undertaking its first flight.  It is not known if this will have a delivery impact on other 787s both at Charleston and Everett.  Currently there are 8 GE powered 787s that are ready or being readied for delivery including the for Dreamliners for Air India.  The other carriers include Ethiopian, Qatar, and Japan Airlines.  The aircraft for Qatar had completed a tour to the Farnborough Airshow where it performed an aerial routine for three days and returned to Everett without incident.  Jon Ostrower of the Wall Street Journal has a great article about the situation.


Dave C said...

I am not sure how correct these are but I believe these are the MSN for AI aircraft:

BOEING 787-8 C/N
VT-ANA 787-8 36273
VT-ANB 787-8 36274
VT-ANC 787-8 36275
VT-AND 787-8 36276
VT-ANE 787-8 36277
VT-ANG 787-8 36278
VT-ANH 787-8 36279
VT-ANI 787-8 36280
VT-ANJ 787-8 36281
VT-ANK 787-8 36282
VT-ANL 787-8 36283
VT-ANM 787-8 36284
VT-ANN 787-8 36285
VT-AN0 787-8 36286
VT-ANP 787-8 36287
VT-ANQ 787-8 36288
VT-ANR 787-8 36289
VT-ANS 787-8 36290
VT-ANT 787-8 36291
VT-ANU 787-8 36292
VT-ANV 787-8 36293
VT-ANW 787-8 36294
VT-ANX 787-8 36295
VT-ANY 787-8 36296
VT-ANZ 787-8 36297
VT-NAA 787-8 36298
VT-NAC 787-8 36299

Dave C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarglen said...

Time (and the NTSB Report) will tell. Without jumping or leaping to conclusions, I'd have tobet my nickle on "Ground Maintenance Error," sometehing not properly secured and perhaps even a tool left in the wrong place. That engine type h as already proven its worth and lose parts flying out the back end is not a known issue. On the bright side, this is one more good example of WHY airframers do a series of high-power taxi tests on EVERY airplane, before it leaps into the for the first time. Whatever the ultimate cause, I'd also bet that the Boeing test pilots are very glad that they stayed on the ground! The next bit of news to look for is the nature of the 'piece,' obviously hot enough to spark a small fire, the seperated from the airplane. There may be some blushing faces...

Anonymous said...

By looking at what parts that came out could probably say a lot for some experts without even opening the engine. It must have been parts from the hot section of the engine to set fire to grass, I know wood needs at least 90C to ignite, dont know about grass though.

Hopefully it is a tech mishap and not engine issue, ok for the person who messed up it will be bad but it wont pause the progress of the engine.