GE to seek more inspections on engines for Boeing jets

By Tim Catts Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — General Electric plans to ask airlines for a second round of inspections on its newest engines after an investigation pointed to different causes for failures on a Boeing 747-8 jumbo jet and on a 787 Dreamliner.

A service bulletin will be issued “in the next day or two” calling for checks on the GEnx engines’ low-pressure turbines, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE’s aviation unit. That component showed damage after a GEnx engine on a 747-8 freighter failed on takeoff in Shanghai on Sept. 11.

The China incident followed the failure of a GEnx engine on a Dreamliner during a July 28 test near Boeing’s Charleston, S.C., plant. A National Transportation Safety Board probe found a crack in a rotating shaft in that engine. The shaft wasn’t damaged on the Shanghai jet, the NTSB has said.

As GE works with U.S. regulators to identify the cause of the GEnx issues, Qatar Airways said it will defer delivery of Dreamliners it has on order until the engines are modified. Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker announced the delay after a speech Tuesday in Doha, Reuters reported earlier.

Qatar Airways’ 30 firm orders for the twin-engine wide-body jet trail only All Nippon Airways Co., International Lease Finance and Emirates. Qatar Airways has an option for an additional 30 Dreamliners.

Updesh Kapur, a spokesman for the closely held airline, said he wasn’t at the Doha event and couldn’t confirm Al Baker’s comments. Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman, didn’t immediately return a phone call and e-mail seeking comment on the CEO’s remarks.

GE began inspecting fan mid-shafts on GEnx engines after the South Carolina malfunction on the Dreamliner during a high- speed taxi test. Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE said it sent the damaged unit from the 787 to a facility in Cincinnati, the home of the aviation unit.

The GEnx is used only on the 747-8, the latest version of Boeing’s humpbacked, four-engine jumbo jet, and on the Dreamliner, the first airliner built chiefly from composite plastics instead of the traditional aluminum.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the service bulletin earlier Tuesday.