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JAL pulls Sydney Dreamliner launch over icing risk

November 25, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Boeing’s troubled B787 Dreamliner is involved in yet another worry. The plane maker advised airlines at the weekend of a risk of engine icing problems on its new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes powered by GEnx engines made by General Electric.

Boeing urged 15 carriers to avoid flying the planes near high-level thunderstorms.

The warning led Japan Airlines to pull 787 Dreamliners from two international routes. JAL has postponed the 2 December 2013 inauguration of the jet on its Tokyo (Narita) to Sydney services until the problem with icing affecting those engines is resolved, aviation reporter Ben Sandilands stated in his Plane Talking blog on crikey.com.au.

Boeing advised not to fly its GEnx engined 787-8 Dreamliner within 90 kilometres of thunderstorms.

“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 service on specific routes,” a Boeing spokesman said.

Sandilands said Jetstar, which also uses GEnx engines on its 787-8s, doesn’t expect the warning will affect its operations significantly, but it will heed Boeing’s advice to stay well away from tall thunderheads and will comply with any regulatory changes that may arise from the advice.

Air-India flies Dreamliners to Australia, powered by GEnx engines, with a daily service between India Sydney and Melbourne.

India’s Business Standard newspaper reported that other affected airlines included Lufthansa, United Airlines, an arm of United Continental Holdings and Cathay Pacific Airlines.

The Business Standard said Boeing’s move followed six incidents from April to November involving five 747-8s and one 787, in which aircraft powered by GE’s GEnx engines suffered temporary loss of thrust while flying at high altitude.

The problem, which appears to be a General Electric issue rather than a Boeing issue, was caused by a build-up of ice crystals, initially just behind the front fan, which ran through the engine, a GE spokesman was quoted as saying.

When you are flying at 35,000 feet, a problem with the engine is a problem with the plane.

Written by Peter Needham

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