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Engine Icing Affects Some 787s, 747-8s

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Boeing has told 15 airlines operating certain versions of its 787 and all its 747-8 aircraft not to fly within 50 nautical miles of high-level thunderstorms after six incidents in which their GEnx lost thrust due to ice crystal buildups. Boeing and GE say they are changing engine control software to address the problems. All 747-8s have the GE engines, but Rolls Royce Trent engines are also available on the 787 and they aren't affected by the order. Japan Airlines has pulled 787s from its Tokyo-Dehli and Tokyo-Singapore routes and will replace them with 777s and 767s.“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,” Yuichi Kitada, a general manager in JAL’s engineering department, told Bloomberg. “We’re at the first step of discussing a solution to this problem with Boeing and GE.”

So far, most 747-8 deliveries have been the freighter model but Lufthansa has nine of the passenger version. Other airlines affected by the order are Cathay Pacific and United, which have GE-equipped 787s. GE noted the global shift in air traffic in commenting on the issue. “The aviation industry is experiencing a growing number of ice-crystal icing encounters in recent years as the population of large commercial airliners has grown, particularly in tropical regions of the world,” an unnamed GE spokesman told The New York Times.

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