By Matt Tomsic
Published July 30, 2012
GE Aviation’s damaged engine is set to arrive at its service facility in Cincinnati this week, where the company will tear it down to determine the cause of a malfunction during ground tests Saturday performed by the second Lowcountry-built 787 Dreamliner.
“We’re focused on the back end of the engine,” said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman with GE Aviation, adding the exact cause of the malfunction is still not known. “We are very confident we know the area where this issue was caused.”
|A GEnx engine, like this one affixed to the first Dreamliner to roll out of Boeing’s North Charleston facility, malfunctioned during a ground test of a different Dreamliner. (Photo/Andy Owens/File)|
“We are in the very early stages of fact gathering, and today is our investigator's first full day on-scene,” said Terry Williams, a spokesman for the safety board, in an email.
GE Aviation hopes to have the damaged GEnx engine arrive in Cincinnati in the next couple days, Kennedy said.
“There’s no indication at this point at all that there’s a fleet issue,” he said, adding roughly 100 GEnx engines are in service and doing fine.
On Saturday, the second Lowcountry-built 787 Dreamliner performed ground testing for its engines on a runway used by Joint Base Charleston and Charleston International Airport. During the ground test, debris flew off the back of the engine, catching about 5 feet of grass on fire at the end of runway 2-1, said Rose Alexander, a spokeswoman for the Air Force.
The incident delayed two of the airport’s flights, an airport spokeswoman said.
Kennedy said the malfunction was a “contained failure,” meaning debris came from the back of the engine instead of shooting through the side of the engine. Because it was a contained failure, GE Aviation is focusing on the back end of the engine, which houses the low-pressure turbines.
“We don’t know the cause,” Kennedy said. “But we’re focused very heavily on the low-pressure turbine.”
In an emailed statement, Boeing said it is working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board and directed further questions about the incident to the safety board, including questions about the grounding of the 787 until the investigation is over.
“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,” said Candy Eslinger, a Boeing spokeswoman, in an emailed statement. “However, should the investigation determine a need to act, Boeing has the processes in place to take action and will do so appropriately.”