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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Tuesday that it will require additional, more stringent inspection of fan blades in engines that are similar to the one that exploded on Boeing 737-700 Southwest Flight 1380.
An “unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption” of the rule, the FAA said without further elaboration.
The new inspection requirements follow an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) issued by the FAA and by European regulators after Southwest’s deadly incident, which called for the inspection of nearly 700 CFM56-7B engines on Boeing 737-700s worldwide. The initial directive called for ultrasonic inspections on fan blades that have been used in more than 30,000 cycles, or in service for about 20 years, within 20 days of the emergency AD issuance.
Tuesday, the FAA expanded the inspection requirements to encompass an additional 3,716 CFM56-7B engines on US-registered aircraft. Under the new directive, the “concave and convex sides” of some fan blades within these engines must be inspected by August 31 or before the blades accumulate 20,000 cycles, according to the order. Some of the engines within this group have already been inspected under the previous directive, but must undergo inspection again.
According to the FAA, the safety precautions are to prevent another Flight 1380 situation, where a fan blade that broke off the plane’s engine shattered a window, killing a passenger from the cabin depressurization that followed.
The CFM56 engines are manufactured by CFM in US and European factories, which is under joint ownership by General Electric as well as France’s Safran.
*Correction: A previous version of this story referenced the aircraft as a 737-300. It has been updated to reflect the correct aircraft, a 737-700.
Featured photo courtesy of the National Transportation Safety Board via the Associated Press.
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