Boeing and General Electric pulled an engine off a new 787 Dreamliner jet for testing as U.S. officials decided to open an investigation into why the unit spewed debris over the weekend.
The National Transportation Safety Board will send an engine specialist and a metallurgist to a GE facility in Cincinnati to coordinate the examination of the power plant, the agency said Tuesday in a statement.
The NTSB said it acted after an investigator visited the scene in Charleston, S.C.
Debris blew out of the engine during a July 28 high-speed taxi test of an Air India 787 at the Charleston airport near Boeing’s new factory there, igniting a brush fire along the runway and temporarily diverting and delaying flights. The safety board didn’t release any new information about the damage to the engine or what might have caused it to fail.
“This is an unusual and significant failure,” said Nick Cunningham, an aviation analyst at Agency Partners in London. No parts pierced the engine casing, “which is key to making it less of a safety issue.”
A visual inspection Monday showed that damage was limited to the back end of the engine and doesn’t indicate a fleetwide problem, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE. The cause of the engine’s failure is “far from being determined” because a team will have to dismantle and examine it piece by piece, including metallurgic testing for stress points, he said.
The debris came from the low-pressure turbine area at the rear of the engine, where the blades were damaged, Kennedy said.