Regulators Expected To Require Airbus A380 EA Engine Checks

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will be issuing an airworthiness directive (AD) for a specific type of engine that powers the Airbus A380. News of this move comes days after the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its own AD for the same issue.

GP7200
The GP7200 powers around 60% of the A380 fleet. Photo: Quentin Douchet via Wikipedia

The problem

According to the EASA, the AD is specifically for Engine Alliance’s GP7200 series engines and concerns a fracture in the fan hub. This is what the EASA said regarding the issue via Air Transport World:

“The investigation in this case is led by the BEA in close coordination with experts from EASA and the FAA. Following the recent examination of retrieved engine parts, mandatory actions have been agreed between all involved parties which will call for repeated inspections of the affected engine type…An airworthiness directive to this effect is expected to be issued within the next two weeks.”

All of this originally stems from a fracture that was found in the fan hub of a failed engine. The Air France A380 was flying over Greenland September 2017, when the engine failed. However, it was only this year that parts were recovered.

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Firstly, in May, fragments were first found. However, these fragments were unfortunately not the most important parts. Subsequently, in July, nearly two years after the incident occurred, the key parts were discovered. According to Seeking Alpha, the titanium part is the centerpiece of a 3-meter-wide fan on the A380 engines.

The manufacturer: Engine Alliance

Engine Alliance, is a 50:50 joint-venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. There is anticipation that Engine Alliance will order checks for any microscopic flaws on similar parts in its engines. According to Air Transport World, Engine Alliance issued the following statement:

“[We are] already performing inspections and maintenance in accordance with the Aug. 15 FAA Airworthiness directive. We are supporting our customers and coordinating with them to ensure the process is completed in a timely manner.”

Statements from BEA

France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) is the country’s air accident investigation agency. It was the agency that originally discovered the fan hub component. This component is also known as the first-stage low pressure compressor rotor assembly.

On August 21st, BEA said that the fan hub had been examined by Engine Alliance, under its supervision. Furthermore, an engine inspection campaign is launching soon.

Airlines most affected

Emirates Premium Economy Seat Cabin
Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A80. Photo: Emirates

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380 with 112 currently in its fleet with another 11 aircraft on order. In 2002, Emirates selected Engine Alliance to supply the engines for its A380s. Following the initial order, EA became the sole supplier for the Emirates A380 engines until 2015. After this, the airline opted for the Rolls-Royce Trent 900.

50 years of Airbus - A reflection
Rolls-Royce is the other engine option for the A380. The Trent 900 has its own issues regarding fan blades. Photo: Michael Rehfeldt via Flickr

According to Channel News Asia, Engine Alliance powers a total of 152 A380 aircraft – just over 60% of the 237 A380s in service. In fact, airlines using the engine include Etihad, Air France, Korean Airlines and Qatar.

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