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FAA orders Dreamliner fuel lines checked

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at 10:39 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Association issued a directive Wednesday requiring inspections of fuel line connectors on Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.

The FAA issued the order after fuel leaks on two in-service 787s were found to be from manufacturing errors.

The FAA said the discovery of several improperly assembled engine fuel feed manifold couplings on in-service and production airplanes spurred the directive.

“These conditions, if not corrected, could result in fuel leaks, which could lead to fuel exhaustion, engine power loss or shutdown, or leaks on hot engine parts that could lead to a fire,” the directive said.

The couplings are in the pylons that support the 787’s two engines.

Cowen and Co. analyst Cai von Rumohr noted in a report that 787 customers already have voluntarily completed the inspections on about half of the aircraft delivered.

Separately, a United Airlines’ flight bound for Newark, N.J., from Houston on Tuesday made an emergency landing in New Orleans after pilots received a “fault” message.

The plane, which was delivered to the airline Nov. 27, landed safely.

The incident is under investigation. United is working with the FAA to determine its cause, reports said.

A company spokeswoman told Bloomberg News that the emergency landing was not related to the fuel-leak directive.

The directive applies to 39 serial numbers.

Japan-based All Nippon airlines found and repaired the fault in “several” 787s, Youichi Uchida, a spokesman, told Bloomberg News. And Japan Air fixed two of its six 787s, said Kazunori Kidosaki, a spokesman. All Nippon delayed a flight in October because of a leak, Uchida said.

The agency is requiring partial checks within seven days and what it estimates to be a complete 10-hour inspection within 21 days.

The FAA’s directive requires ensuring that lockwire is installed correctly on the engine fuel feed manifold couplings and inspection of the assembly of the engine fuel feed manifold and couplings.

“The incident still is being investigated but looks like it may be minor and (an) easily correctable introductory glitch,” von Rumohr said in his report.

Improper installations that occurred during production included couplings with missing or improperly installed lockwire, parts within the couplings installed in the wrong locations, incorrect parts installed in the couplings and couplings that had extra parts installed, the FAA said in the directive.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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