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FAA grounds Air India Dreamliner in Seoul to check faulty GE engine

NEW DELHI: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday grounded an Air India Boeing Dreamliner in Seoul to look into its engines. The American regulator’s move came in the wake of some other airline’s aircraft witnessing an in-flight failure of its General Electric (GE) engine.

Later FAA decided to ground all aircraft fitted with the same series of GE engines wherever they were and examine the engines before allowing them to take off. The problem, according to sources, could be with the engine’s “angle valve” which functions as the gear box.

The AI Dreamliner (VT-ANP) operating on Delhi-Hong Kong-Seoul-HK-Delhi route was also fitted with the same series of GE engine which led to the grounding for checks by the FAA in Seoul. AI had to cancel the return leg of the flight to Delhi which this plane had to operate. The aircraft will be allowed to fly after checks if the engine is found to be safe. The airline has put up stranded passengers in hotels.

The inflight engine failure is not the first trouble that some GE engines fitted on Boeing 787 and 747-8 have been experiencing for some time now. However, it is the most serious one.

Boeing has changed the operating procedures for AI’s Dreamliners. The new procedure reduces the risk of icing on the engines and improves safety. Icing occurs when super-cooled water freezes on impact with any part of the external structure of an aircraft during a flight. It can reduce a plane’s performance, lead to loss of lift, stall the aircraft and result in loss of control.

Earlier, Boeing has asked Air India not to fly near thunderstorms as it could lead to icing on the GE engines used on them. AI has changed the routes on some sectors after this advisory.

This issue is cropping up possibly due to the formation of ice crystals behind the main fan of the engine and which leads to a brief loss of thrust.