30/11/2009 – FAA Allows Aircraft With Known Engine Problem To Keep Flying
Just over a year ago I wrote about a US Federal Agency responsible for protecting airline passengers failing to do the responsible thing by grounding aircraft with a known potentially catastrophic in this post: 16/10/2008 – NTSB Finds Missing Parts In Multiple 757 Engines
Today another US Federal Agency responsible for protecting airline passengers has once again placed airlines passengers in a potentially catastrophic situation. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided to allow more than 130 Boeing 777s to continue to fly long-haul international flights, through January 2011, in spite of significant warnings regarding parts that have previously caused the Rolls Royce-Trent manufactured engines to shut down in midair.
The FAA has rejected a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation to require the replacement parts be installed in at least one of the two engines on each affected Boeing 777. The deadline for parts replacement for the Rolls Royce-Trent engines has been pushed to January 2011 due to the limited availability of the replacement parts for the aircraft engines.
The interim safety procedure for the affected Boeing 777 Rolls Royce-Trent engines require certain precautions for pilots to prevent ice to buildup on the engines, which can occur during long-haul flights at high altitudes over the polar regions.
Why has the FAA chosen to push the safety deadline to January 2011 rather than ground the aircraft and/or require Rolls Royce to speed up production of replacement parts? Economics. I understand the economics, however what are the economics of a Boeing 777 having double engine failure?
Of the more than 130 affected Boeing 777s, 46 of the Boeing 777-200s are operated by British Airways and 47 are operated by American Airlines. A British Airways 777, Flight 38, experienced dual-engine failure on approach of London Heathrow Airport on January 17th 2008. American Airlines, whose 777s have not experienced the mid-flight failure, intends to have its engines fitted with the required replacement parts well ahead of the FAA imposed deadline.
Politics and economics over safety…is this what we expect from a Federal Agency charged with the responsibility of protecting millions of airline passengers?