FAA Proposes Airbus A380 Engine Inspections

The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing engine checks on Engine Alliance equipped Airbus A380s. The action comes following an uncontained engine failure of an Air France Airbus A380 above Greenland in 2017.

Air France, Airbus A380, Retired
An Air France A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure over Greenland in 2017. Photo: Getty Images

The jury is still out on what happened inside the engine of F-HPJE in the skies above Greenland according to FlightGlobal. However, the FAA has proposed engine checks on similar engines as a result of the incident. The Airworthiness Directive addressing the checks is open for comment until January 13th. It will then go into force on January 14th.

What does the airworthiness directive say?

According to the airworthiness directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA-2019-0912) affected engines must have their first stage low-pressure compressor fan blades scanned by ultrasound. If blades are found to be defective, then they will need to be replaced. The Federal Aviation Administration has calculates proposed costs for the action.

According to the FAA, it will take around eight hours to inspect each engine. At a cost of around $85 per hour, each engine will cost around $680, so around $2,700 per Airbus A380 with four engines. Things start to get pricy when the blades need to be replaced. These cost $190,000. With about four hours of work required to replace the parts, add another $340.

Airbus A380, Engine Failure, Airworthiness Directive
Only Engine Alliance engines are affected. Photo: Zeugma fr via Wikimedia

Only five airline will be affected by the airworthiness directive, as the remaining airlines use Rolls Royce engines as opposed to those from Engine Alliance. The affected airlines are Air France, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, and last but not least by any means, Qatar Airways.

What happened to prompt this?

The airworthiness directive was prompted by an uncontained engine failure which afflicted Air France in 2017. The Airbus A380 was operating Air France flight 66. Having departed from Paris Charles De Gaulle the aircraft was supposed to fly to Los Angeles International.

Following the failure of the aircraft’s number 4 engine, the Airbus A380 diverted to Goose Bay in Canada. As the engine failure was uncontained, pieces of the engine plummeted down to Greenland. It took until 2019 for some of these pieces to be discovered, with the help of specialist teams.

A380 Engine Part Recovery
A part of the engine was buried deep within the snow. Photo: Dick van As of Greenland Guidance

While not the aircraft that was involved in the incident, Air France recently retired its first Airbus A380. F-HPJB was repainted in an all-white livery in November. Following this, the aircraft was recently flown to Dresden for maintenance at the same outfit that is refurbishing Qantas’ Airbus A380s. Once the maintenance is complete, the aircraft will be returned to its lessor, the Doctor Peters Group.

What do you make of the airworthiness directive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!