No aircraft with PW4000 engines in UAE airspace: GCAA

Dubai - The UAE’s aviation regulators said it is closely working with the US Federal Aviation Administration for any updates on the Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with PW4000 engines

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 12:13 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 3:13 PM

As the grounding of 777 jets has no impact on the local airlines, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is monitoring the situation and said there is no registered aircraft operating with PW4000 engines in the country’s airspace and at the airport.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UAE’s aviation regulators said it is closely working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for any updates on the Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

“Currently the UAE does not have any UAE registered aircraft operating with PW4000 engines. And, there are no foreign aircraft fitted with the mentioned engine operating to UAE airports and airspace,” according to the GCAA statement.

Also read:

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Boeing recommends airlines suspend use of some 777s

Video: Debris falls from the sky after United flight's engine failure

The regulator issued the statement following an incident where a United Airlines 777-200 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport after suffering an engine failure over Denver last Saturday. The PW4000 engine, which failed on the 26-year-old Boeing 777 and shed parts over a Denver suburb, is used on 128 planes accounting for less than 10 per cent of the more than 1,600 777s delivered worldwide. Only a handful of airlines in the United States, South Korea and Japan were operating these aircraft recently.

Many airlines around the world have imposed a ban on operating Boeing 777s fitted with PW4000-112 engines after the incident. There were no reported injuries but debris from the plane’s Pratt & Whitney engine was found under its flight path.

“In view of the actions taken by both state of design and state of registries are deemed adequate and there is no need of any additional measures to be taken from the UAE at this stage. We are continually monitoring the situation and if there are any further developments and intervention is required it will be taken,” the GCAA statement said.

No impact on UAE airlines

On Monday, the UAE's national carriers said they were not impacted by the Boeing’s advisory to ground 777 jets, after debris fell from a jet of the same family operated by a US airline. The incident led to Japan suspending the use of Boeing 777 aircraft equipped with PW4000 engines.

In a statement to Khaleej Times, an Emirates spokesperson said the airline operates Boeing 777 but they are equipped with GE engines. Hence, it is not impacted by the Boeing’s recommendations.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also confirmed that it is not impacted by the Boeing’s announcement.

Budget carrier flydubai said it doesn’t operate Boeing 777 aircraft in its fleet.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said Emirates does employ the world’s biggest 777 fleet, but these are powered by General Electric GE90-115B engines on the 777-300ER fleet and GE90-110B powering its 10x 777-200LR and 777 Freighter fleets.

“Given that the recent engine issue on the United Airlines 777-200 is under investigation, its worth noting that no UAE airline operates this engine/airplane combination so there’s no risk to operational fleets being stood down,” Ahmad told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

Further, he said the age of the engine/airframe combination means that very few of these airplanes are in service and so, investigating the metal fatigue issues should be a straightforward affair.

“Much of these ageing 777-200s do not fly to the UAE either, given their limited range and so, there’s no impact to travellers here,” he added.

US regulator orders inspections

Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney said on Tuesday that it will carry out inspections as ordered by the US FAA on 125 planes with engine blades similar to those that recently failed on a Boeing 777 aircraft.

The plane engine maker said the fan blades would be examined using Thermal Acoustic Imaging (TAI) inspection to confirm ‘airworthiness’.

“Pratt & Whitney is coordinating all actions with Boeing, airline operators and regulators. The safe operation of the fleet is our top priority,” the company said in a statement.

In another statement, Boeing said it supported the FAA’s latest inspection guidance and would work through the process with its customers.

The FAA said on Tuesday it was ordering immediate inspections of Boeing 777 planes with PW4000 engines before further flights after an engine failed on a United Airlines flight on Saturday.

“Operators must conduct a thermal acoustic image inspection of the large titanium fan blades located at the front of each engine,” the FAA said.

Engine inspection cycles

In March 2019, after a 2018 United engine failure attributed to fan blade fatigue, the FAA ordered inspections every 6,500 cycles. A cycle is one take-off and landing.

An airline would typically accumulate 1,000 cycles about every 10 months on a 777, according to an industry source familiar with the matter.

The FAA said in 2019 that each inspection was expected to take 22 man-hours and cost $1,870. It did not provide updated estimates on Tuesday.


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