787 GEnx engine to be torn down after runway fire

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Published: July 30, 2012

A GE Aviation GEnx engine powering a newly built Boeing 787 is being prepared to be torn down as part of an investigation after it appears to have shed something that prompted a small grass fire at Charleston Airport (CHS) in South Carolina over the weekend.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into the July 28 incident, which involved a 787 during preflight runway testing.

The incident, described by Boeing as “an engine issue,” involved a newly built 787 and led to the fire that prompted CHS to suspend commercial flights for about an hour Saturday afternoon.

Charleston Air Force Base, which owns and has shared use of the airport’s runway, declared an emergency when the fire began, apparently started by something that fell off a jet engine. A US Air Force spokeswoman told local media the debris was examined and determined not to have come from an engine of one of its C-17 military transports.

In a statement, GE Aviation said, “GE Aviation continues to work with the NTSB and Boeing to determine the cause of Saturday’s incident during a ground test run in Charleston on a newly built 787. GE is working aggressively to move the engine involved in the incident to a GE facility for an investigative tear down.”

An NTSB spokesman confirmed to ATW that an investigation had begun, but said it was too early for any statements.

Boeing and GE each issued separate statements saying they were not aware of any operational issues that would present concerns about the safe flight of GEnx-powered aircraft. GE said there are about 100 GEnx engine in service and they have accumulated more than 125,000 flight hrs.

The GEnx competes with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 on the 787. Japan Airlines was the first to put a GEnx 787 into service earlier this year (ATW Daily News, March 27).

“While the investigation is in its early stages, we are unaware of any operational issue that would present concerns about the continued safe operation of in-service 787s powered by GE engines. However, should the investigation determine a need to act, Boeing has the processes in place to take action and will do so appropriately,” Boeing said in a statement.

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