The Federal Aviation Administration ordered airlines to conduct emergency inspections of CFM International CFM56 high-bypass turbofan aircraft engines, following the failure of a fan blade on one such engine, on a Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines. The failure caused damage to the engine and the aircraft, and led to the death of one passenger.
The FAA order is effective immediately, and requires inspections to be completed within 20 days (that is, by May 10.) It covers an estimated 352 CFM International Inc. engines with at least 30,000 engine-cycles installed on jets operated by U.S. airlines.
A jet engine cycle consists of an engine start, takeoff and landing, and full shut down.
The inspections are conducted by ultrasonic scanning of the blades’ surfaces, without disassembly, reportedly will take about four hours per engine to complete.
The emergency order is effective immediately, and inspections must be completed within 20 days, the FAA said.
The European Aviation Safety Agency is adopting similar requirements, said a person familiar with the matter. There are 681 of the engines worldwide with that many flights and regulators in other nations generally follow the FAA’s lead.
CFM Intl. also issued a new service bulletin today to operators of CFM56-7B engines, which are the power units for Boeing Next-Generation 737.
CFM noted its service bulletin was issued in “close coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, European Aviation Safety Agency, Boeing, and CFM56-7B operators worldwide.”
It recommended ultrasonic inspections within 20 days to fan blades of CFM56-7B engines with more than 30,000 cycles since the first operation. It further recommended inspections by August 31 for fan blades with 20,000 cycles; and inspections to all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles.
In addition, CFM recommended that following the first inspection operators should repeat the inspection every 3,000 cycles, which it noted typically represents about two years in airline service.
Records indicated approximately 14,000 CFM56-7B engines are in operation for airlines worldwide. The inspections recommended by mid-May affect about 680 engines. Inspections recommended by the end of August affect 2,500 more engines. In all, CFM indicated about 60 customers worldwide operate engines within the cyclic thresholds of the new service bulletin.