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Safety Board Probes Boeing Dreamliner Engine Failure

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an engine failure that occurred on a high fuel-efficiency Boeing 787 Dreamliner during a taxi test last weekend in Charleston, S.C., Industry Week reported.

Boeing and General Electric, the engine manufacturer, notified the NTSB that a Boeing 787 experienced an engine failure during a pre-delivery taxi test. As a result of the failure, debris from the engine fell onto the active runway and into the grass at Charleston International Airport, causing a brush fire that closed the airport for more than an hour, the Post and Courier reported. There were no passengers aboard the aircraft nor were there any fatalities or injuries.

In the next few days, an NTSB aircraft powerplants expert and a metallurgist from the NTSB Materials Lab will travel to a General Electric facility in Cincinnati, OH, to lead and coordinate the disassembly and examination of the engine.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also participating in the investigation.

Boeing says that the Dreamliner is designed to use 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized planes and that the aircraft’s GE and Rolls Royce-designed engines represent “nearly a two-generation jump” in technology for this sector of the airplane market. Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787, including the fuselage and wing. Boeing describes the aircraft – the first of which was delivered in September 2011 – as the first mid-size airplane capable of flying long-range, allowing airlines to open new, non-stop routes.

In April, Boeing announced a series of design updates to its 737 MAX engine variant aimed at making additional fuel savings available to customers by 2017.

Airlines operating the 737 MAX will see a 10 percent to 12 percent fuel-burn improvement over the current technology in the most fuel efficient single-aisle airplanes, and a seven percent operating cost per-seat advantage over projected technology of other planes, Boeing said.

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