NTSB Urges Stringent Checks

Federal safety investigators on Monday urged more stringent inspections of some jet engines after a failure during a maintenance test in June sent engine parts flying across Los Angeles International Airport and ignited a fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended inspections of turbine disks in General Electric CF6-80A engines, which are in use in airliners worldwide, about twice as often as the Federal Aviation Administration requires.

The FAA has 90 days to respond.

"We issued the airworthiness directive based on the best data available but, of course, we'll review the NTSB recommendations," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The June 2 accident was an "uncontained failure" of the disk in the engine on the American Airlines Boeing 767's left wing, the NTSB said. Engine parts hurtled into the 767's left and right wing fuel tanks, and the leaking fuel ignited, the board said.

The disk ruptured because of a fracture that originated at a small dent and there were also two similar cracks on the disk, the board said.

"We were fortunate that there were no fatalities or injuries in this serious incident," NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said in a statement issued in Washington, D.C. "We need to take every precaution and move rapidly to avoid something similar happening again."

The disk had 9,186 cycles - meaning the number of times an engine was turned on, run, and shut down - out of a life limit of 15,000 cycles.

After the incident, the FAA required removal and inspection of the disks at 6,900 cycles. GE supports that directive.

GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said the FAA's directive followed an extensive investigation and was based on General Electrics' own recommendation to aircraft operators. He said GE had no role in the NTSB recommendation.

The NTSB's urgent proposal calls for the FAA to require immediate removal of the disks for maintenance every 3,000 cycles.

Airliners using CF6-80A engines include certain Boeing 767s and 747s, Airbus A300s and A310s, and MD-11s, the FAA said.

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