FAA orders Boeing 737 engine checks

Date:         06 Jul 98 03:24:43 
From:         fjfjlspencer@alaska.net (Lee Spencer)
Organization: Internet Alaska Inc. -- http://www.alaska.net
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Here's an article that should be of interest.

FAA orders Boeing 737 engine checks

By Tim Dobbyn

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered
U.S. airlines flying the newest Boeing 737 aircraft to check immediately
for a problem that shut down two engines over Europe last week.

The urgent airworthiness directive to inspect engine gearboxes for a
faulty shaft affects 23 U.S.-registered Boeing 737-700 and 737-800
models.

FAA said in a statement its action followed two inflight engine
shutdowns last Friday involving a Transaero Airlines plane in Russia and
a Braathens Airlines flight in Norway.

There were no injuries in either incident and the twin-engined 737 is
designed to be able to fly on one engine.

Although engine-maker CFM International had previously advised airlines
of the gear box problem in service bulletins, FAA decided to order swift
action after the two European incidents.

The engine accessory gearbox is used to start the engine, but once
ignition occurs, the gearbox takes off engine power to run the plane's
hydraulic and electrical systems.

Earlier this year FAA ordered immediate inspections of hundreds of older
737s for vibration-induced wear on wires running through fuel tanks. The
problems are not related.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based CFM, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and
Snecma of France, said the problem had been traced to an outside
supplier.

CFM spokeswoman Pat Klaus said gearbox starter shafts from mid-1996
until April this year had not been shotpeened, a manufacturing process
that relieves stress and prevents metal fatigue.

"CMF International has instituted an aggressive field program to replace
this part on all the engines involved," Klaus said.

FAA said the planes affected by its order cannot fly until until the
gearbox on the No. 2 engine is checked for metallic debris.  If abnormal
magnetic particles are detected the gearshaft must be replaced.

The No. 1 engine is to be inspected the next day.

Airlines not finding any problem can keep inspecting the gearboxes every
other day but FAA insisted that all No. 2 engine gearshafts be replaced
by Aug. 1 or within 350 hours of use.

For the No. 1 engine gearshaft the mandatory replacement date is Sept.
1 or within 725 hours.

FAA said the magnetic particle inspection would take half an hour to
complete at a cost of about $30 per engine.

Gearshaft replacement would take 12 hours and cost about $10,295 per
engine or about $536,000 for the whole U.S. fleet.

Southwest Airlines Co. which has 11 Boeing 737-700s said the work could
be carried out overnight. "There will be zero impact on our schedules,"
said Southwest spokeswoman Ginger Hardage.

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Best Regards,
Lee Spencer