The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), US airspace regulatory agency, has directed airlines with the same engines as the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 to carry out a thorough inspection of the engines’ fan blades.
The Southwest Airlines aircraft suffered an engine failure which forced it to make an emergency landing on Tuesday. The aircraft uses the same engine as Arik Air and Air Peace, two of Nigeria’s leading airlines.
In an emergency order issued on Friday, FAA instructed airlines to carry out ultrasonic inspections on fan blades of engines with more than 30,000 cycles within the next 20 days.
An aircraft cycle includes an engine start, a takeoff and landing, and a shutdown.
The FAA said it has determined that fan blade cracking “is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design” and added that it was “considering further rulemaking to address these differences”.
Prior to the emergency order, CFM International, a manufacturer of the engines, had issued guidelines for the ultrasonic inspections.
CFM recommended that fan blades with 20,000 cycles should be inspected by the end of August.
It also advised airlines to inspect all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles, and that it should be repeated at every 3,000 cycles.
According to CFM, about 14,000 engines in service are covered by the new inspection guidelines.
To facilitate the recommended inspections, CFM said it was providing about 500 technicians to accelerate the process.
In March, an Arik flight from Lagos to Accra, Ghana, made an emergency landing after the pilot detected a smoke in the cabin.
“The aircraft is currently parked in Accra and our team of engineers are conducting comprehensive inspections on the aircraft to ascertain the cause of the smoke, after which the aircraft will be flown without passengers to a maintenance facility for rectification and testing,” Arik had said at the time.