FAA Orders Boeing to Fix a Software Glitch on the 747-8 Fleet with GE Engines

747-8 GE Engines

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday ordered an immediate fix to the latest version of Boeing Co’s 747-8 plane, saying a software glitch could cause it to lose thrust when close to landing and fly into the ground.

The FAA’s so-called airworthiness directive covers Boeing’s 747-8 and 747-8F planes with certain General Electric engines. It calls for replacing defective software with a new, improved version.

The rule, the fourth such directive involving the 747-8, directly affects seven airplanes in the United States, the FAA said.

If adopted internationally, the rule would cover a larger number. Boeing’s website said it had delivered 66 of the four-engine jets, the company’s largest, to customers worldwide since the model was introduced in October 2011.

The problem never caused a problem in flight, Boeing said.

Because of the seriousness of the safety issues, the directive takes effect April 9, skipping the usual comment period, although comments can still be submitted, the FAA said.

Boeing said data analysis indicated a potential problem, and it advised customers last year to update the software. It said it believed the majority of operators had already done so.

The risk of failure was “extremely remote,” Boeing said.

GE said it owned the software and jointly analyzed it with Boeing, but plane maker decided to recommend the software change to customers.

According to the FAA, the risk arises when a plane is changing back into “air mode” while performing a “rejected or bounced landing.” That change halts hydraulic pressure used to stow the engine thrust reversers, which slow the plane on landing, the agency said.

Without hydraulic pressure, the reversers may not stow fully and might redeploy, which “could result in inadequate climb performance at an altitude insufficient for recovery, and consequent uncontrolled flight into terrain,” the FAA said.

Unidentified business jet/VIP customers own the eight passenger models of the aircraft in the United States, according to Boeing’s website. Air cargo company Atlas Air is the largest U.S. commercial owner of the jet, with a fleet of eight 747-8F freighters.

Among passenger carriers, Lufthansa is the largest operator, with 11. It said its planes were unaffected by the directive.

“GE has confirmed that all our engines already have the software update that is required by the FAA,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

China’s Cathay Pacific has 13 freighters and Cargolux, based in Luxembourg, has nine.

Korean Airlines Co, Nippon Cargo Airlines Co Ltd and Volga-Dnepr UK Ltd also own 787-8F freighters, according to Boeing’s website.

Source:  Reuters.

Photo:  Reuters

 

Building the Boeing 747-8 – Worlds Longest Airliner – Video

The Boeing 747-8 is a wide-body jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the fourth-generation Boeing 747 version, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings, and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States and the longest passenger aircraft in the world.

The 747-8 is offered in two main variants: the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) for passengers and the 747-8 Freighter (747-8F) for cargo. The first 747-8F performed the model’s maiden flight on February 8, 2010, with the 747-8 Intercontinental following on March 20, 2011. Delivery of the first freighter aircraft occurred in October 2011; passenger model deliveries began in 2012. In July 2013, confirmed orders for the 747-8 totaled 107, including 67 of the freighter version, and 40 of the passenger version.

Capt. Ivan

Boeing 747-8 an 787 Dreamliner – High Altitude Icing

Fifteen airlines have been warned about the risk of ice forming on Boeing’s new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner.

The issue – affecting some types of engines made by General Electric when planes fly near high-level thunderstorms – prompted Japan Airlines to cancel two international routes.

There have been six incidents since April when aircraft powered by GE engines lost power at high altitude.

The Boeing 747-8 series and the new 787 Dreamliner are the only types of aircraft affected by the high-altitude icing issue.

The new warning was given to airlines including Lufthansa, United Airlines and Japan Airlines.

It says aircraft with the affected engines – GE’s GEnx – must not be flown within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

As a result, Japan Airlines (JAL) has decided to withdraw Dreamliners from service on the Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore routes.

“Boeing and JAL share a commitment to the safety of passengers and crews on board our airplanes. We respect JAL’s decision to suspend some 787 services on specific routes,” a Boeing spokesman said, according to Reuters news agency.

A GE spokesman told the agency the aviation industry was experiencing “a growing number of ice-crystal icing encounters in recent years as the population of large commercial airliners has grown, particularly in tropical regions of the world”.

He said GE and Boeing were hoping to eliminate the problem by modifying the engine control system software.

British airways use Rolls Royce engines on their Dreamliners. They are not affected by the warning, says the BBC’s Ben Geoghegan.

Despite the issues, the Dreamliner is still considered to be one of the most advanced planes in the industry and remains popular.

Boeing has received orders for more than 1,000 jets since its launch.

Last month, it announced plans to raise production of the 787 Dreamliner to 12 per month by 2016.

That would be an increase from its target for the end of this year of 10 planes a month.

Source:  Reuters

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