Several dozen Airbus A380 widebody aircraft may be sidelined for emergency engine inspections following a surprise discovery in the investigation of a two-year-old engine failure. France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has identified a possible flaw in a titanium alloy component of the GP7000 turbofan jet engines produced by a GE Aviation/Pratt & Whitney joint venture. The discovery is examining the cause of an engine failure aboard an Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles, in September 2017. Some reports indicate the damage to the part is a suspected manufacturing flaw, not the result of service fatigue.
According to reports, the cracked fan component was found buried in ice in Greenland, near where the mid-air engine explosion took place. As reported at that time, the engine fan blades and disc as well as the nose cowl were separated from the engine.
While no injuries occurred, the A380 landed safely in the 2017 incident.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration also ordered inspections of the A380 engines following the 2017 explosion.
The GP7000 is manufactured by Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, and available as one of two engine options for the A380. According to published reports, the GP7000s are installed on 152 aircraft, including jets operated by Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, and Qatar Airways.
A380 jets powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines are not affected by the investigation.
The inspections will require the affected aircraft to be removed from service prior to scheduled maintenance.
The broader investigation into the 2017 engine failure will continue beyond the evaluation of the particular parts on GP7000 engines still in service.