Virgin Australia will replace 17 blades in its Boeing 737 engines after a fatal midair accident in the United States, The New Daily can reveal.
Late last week, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) instructed airlines to inspect within 20 days all Boeing 737 engines with fan blades that had accumulated more than 30,000 flight cycles.
The order followed the midair explosion of a Boeing 737 engine on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told The New Daily on Monday afternoon that Australian airlines had complied with the FAA order and that one airline would replace 17 blades.
Virgin Australia confirmed it would replace a “small number” of fan blades as a result, and that its subsidiary Tigerair was not affected.
“Safety is the Virgin Australia Group’s No.1 priority,” a Virgin spokesperson told The New Daily.
“There will be no impact to customers or to the safety of our operation while these inspections occur.”
Qantas confirmed none of its engines needed to be replaced. No other Australian airlines fly Boeing 737s.
“Airlines conducted inspections of fan blades based on the number of cycles,” a CASA spokesman told The New Daily.
“The urgent one was any planes that had flown more than 30,000 flight cycles like the Southwest Airlines plane involved in the accident.
“Australian airlines have already acted on this and a small number of engines have had to be replaced.
“There are a number of other inspections that are required to be completed by August.
“One airline replaced 17 blades. Inspections will continue as required by the directive.”
Last week, US citizen Jennifer Riordan died after being partially sucked through a broken window on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when one of the Boeing 737’s engines exploded.
— Joe Marcus (@joeasaprap) April 17, 2018
FAA investigations into what caused the Southwest Airlines engine to explode are ongoing, but the US National Transportation Safety Board has indicated metal fatigue on fan blades is the most likely cause.
Ms Riordan died from head injuries sustained during the blast and seven of the 143 other passengers were injured by a shower of debris flung into the plane by the force of the engine’s explosion.
The US National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters the type of engine – a CFM56 – is “very widely used in commercial transport”.