Perspective on 787/GEnx engine event at Charleston
It wasn’t even 10:30 PDT and we had already received quite a few phone calls from media and Wall Street asking what we thought of the weekend engine event on an Air India Boeing 787 equipped with GEnx engines during a test at Boeing’s Charleston plant.
The airplane was on a runway when some parts shot out the tailpipe. The hot parts set grass along the runway on fire, closing the airport for an hour.
You can find a lot of stories on Google News but this one is typical–and, in our view, the headline is overly inflammatory.
We saw the early Tweets about the event and pretty much shrugged the event off. It was a test flight, it’s a new engine type, engine “events” happen more than the public or media realize, nobody was hurt, what’s the big deal?
So we’re surprised by how much interest this generated. True, it’s on the 787 and program difficulties mean that the paint could peel and it would become a headline.
Here’s what we’ve told those who called:
- We’re not concerned. Engines spewing parts is not unknown. It’s the nature of anything mechanical and with a new engine type, the prospect of glitches is elevated. It’s all a matter of context.
- There is no connection between this incident and the engine failure on the ANA 787. ANA’s airplanes are powered by Rolls-Royce engines; this incident was a GEnx engine.
- Any suggestion (and there were two) that this might have something to do with the presumption the airplane was made in Charleston is just silly. The engine was made in Ohio (or some other GE plant). Furthermore, there are three Air India airplanes in Charleston, two of which were flown there from Everett. We don’t know which airplane was involved.
- The authorities, GE and Boeing will consider as cause (in no particular order): FOD (foreign object damage–did the engine ingest something that caused the parts to separate and eject from the rear?; design flaw; defective part; and human error in assembly.
Based on what little is known right now, we don’t see any material impact, if any at all, to the 787 program.