FAA Acts On Uncommanded Inflight Engine Shutdowns

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The FAA plans to impose mandatory fixes for nearly 700 GE turbofan engines Monday because the engines are unacceptably prone to uncommanded inflight shutdown due to ice and a 2007 fix didn't work. Government and industry experts have documented single or dual-engine shutdowns of GE's popular CF6-80C2B engines  on more than 100 Boeing and Airbus jets from the mid-1990s through 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The figures far exceed the expected inflight single-aircraft, multiple-engine shutdown rate of about one in one billion. Following the FAA directive issued in 2007, at least 10 uncommanded inflight shutdowns have been reported. On Monday, the FAA will formally propose a new fix.

The shutdown events typically took place while the aircraft were flying near strong thunderstorms. The engines usually restarted very quickly, sometimes with no pilot input. The 2007 fix changed high-altitude flight procedures and software on roughly 1,200 airliners. Since then, 14 instances of sudden shutdowns have taken place. Four of those took place on the ground and 10 took place in flight. In each case one or two engines shut down without any pilot input and some engines shut down multiple times during one trip. The FAA is expected to require replacement of electronic engine-control systems to prevent sudden inflight shutdowns of one or more engines. According to the Journal, the airlines will have six months or 450 flights to comply after the rule becomes final. The FAA estimates a total cost to operators of $3.4 million.