A fan blade is all it takes

The fact that the host aircraft was a Boeing 777, may cause ignorant observers to believe that Boeing again has a safety issue. The engine blow-up for Uniteds flight from Denver To Honolulu has been presented in vivid visual on social media. Informed observers realize that American engine manufacturer Pratt&Whitney has a trademark stain. Then again, when a fan-blade fails it has other implications. The focus of this blog has for some time centered on the relationship between money and flight safety. The grounding of some hundred aircraft equipped with similar P&W engines tells a story; inspections required. If you inspect fan-blades every day they won’t cause trouble, if you never inspect them they will. Good judgement decides with what interval they should be inspected, and if that good judgement is clouded by economic concerns, things might go (will go) wrong. But again, the industry has become safer, by a mishap now addressed.

Bloomberg has observed a bulletin issued by Boeing to its customers, related to the latest accident involving a B737. Again, ignorant observers, eager to blame Boeing for anything these days, may be derailed. The bulletin states what is valid for anyone flying anything from a Cessna to an An-225. It reads like this: ”Continual crew awareness of airplane attitude, airspeed, flight control position and thrust settings is fundamental for airplane upset prevention and can reduce the effect of startle or surprise caused by rapid unexpected changes.” Anyone producing an airplane should include this in the first pages of their instruction manual.

An issue affecting B787 concerns the cargo compartments, where panels have become damaged or dislodged. The safety issue here is that in case of a cargo fire, the extinguishing agent may be less concentrated through leakage. Now being controlled and rectified. Nothing sensational.

Breaking news: Another similar case with an uncontained engine failure just happened, this time in the Netherlands. A 747F strew souvenirs over a village near Maastricht/Aachen airport after take-off. May-day, fuel-dump and landing in Liège, Belgium (longer runway). Pratt & Whitney again. Time to step up inspections.


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