Tags: storms | GE | engines | Dreamliners

Boeing Warns of Ice Risk on GE-Powered Dreamliners in Storms

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 10:40 AM

Boeing Co. told airlines that some 787 Dreamliners with General Electric Co. engines must bypass thunderstorms as a precautionary measure, the latest advisory on the 787 that was grounded globally earlier this year.

Dreamliners powered by GEnx engines must avoid flying within 50 nautical miles of storms to reduce the risk of ice crystals forming and cutting thrust, Boeing said in a statement on Nov. 23. The alert also covers Boeing’s 747-8 jumbo jets with the engines, said Yvonne Leach, a spokeswoman.

The notice spurred Japan Airlines Co., the second-largest 787 operator, to shift to other jets on routes from Tokyo to Delhi and Singapore. Chicago-based Boeing had to redesign the planes’ lithium-ion battery cases after two meltdowns in January spurred a three-month grounding of the global fleet.

“This looks a lot like a classic teething issue,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant Teal Group, said by e-mail. “It’s probably isolated to just the engine, and even then just one of the two engines available as options. It’s also probably easily fixed with a software tweak, rather than any kind of hardware modification.”

Boeing fell 2.4 percent, the most among stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to $132.70 at 9:59 a.m. in New York. GE slid 0.7 percent to $26.91.

2011 Debut

The twin-engine Dreamliner, the first jet made chiefly of composite materials, entered service with ANA Holdings Inc.’s All Nippon Airways in October 2011 after 3 1/2 years of delays. Tokyo-based ANA, the biggest Dreamliner operator, uses Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines on its planes.

There have been six cases since April of planes with GEnx engines temporarily losing thrust in high-altitude icing conditions, GE said Nov. 23. Five were with 747-8s and one was with a 787, according to the e-mailed statement.

GE said it’s working on software modifications to eliminate the ice-crystal risk and expects them to be available in the first quarter of next year.

Boeing said it will “work closely” with Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE to resolve the issue. ANA hasn’t received any notification to avoid certain weather conditions, Maho Ito, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said by telephone on Nov. 23.

Calls to United Continental Holdings Inc., the only U.S. Dreamliner operator, weren’t returned yesterday. Air India has obtained “procedural advisory” from Boeing on this issue, a spokesman, G. Prasada Rao, said in a phone interview today.

Fewer Storms

Japan Air will replace 787 Dreamliners on flights between Tokyo and Delhi with Boeing 777s today until Nov. 30, and will switch to 767s on its Tokyo-Singapore route, according to a Nov. 23 statement. The Tokyo-based carrier will make a decision this week on flights past Dec. 1, Jian Yang, a spokesman, said by telephone today.

The 787s will be shifted to the Tokyo-Beijing route, which is less likely to have thunderstorms, said Yuichi Kitada, a general manager in JAL’s engineering department.

“There may be cases where we wouldn’t be able to go all the way round the cloud formation and we’d have to turn back,” he said Nov. 23. “We’re at the first step of discussing a solution to this problem with Boeing and GE.”

Boeing delivered 98 Dreamliners through October, and surpassed 1,000 orders for the plane this month at the Dubai Air Show. The company handed over 57 of the four-engine 747-8s as of the end of last month, most of which are freighters.

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Boeing Co. told airlines that some 787 Dreamliners with General Electric Co. engines must bypass thunderstorms as a precautionary measure, the latest advisory on the 787 that was grounded globally earlier this year.
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2013-40-25
Monday, 25 Nov 2013 10:40 AM
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