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FAA wants $13.6M fix to Pratt's turbofan engines

BY Patricia Daddona

10/12/2017
PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
A Pratt & Whitney employee works on one of the East Hartford company's jet engines.
[This story has been updated.]

The Federal Aviation Administration wants East Hartford jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney to replace potentially unsafe cracked air seals in its turbofan engines installed in nearly 1,000 airplanes at an estimated cost of $13.6 million.

The company says, however, that it already identified the issue last spring and is taking corrective steps and that the potential action does not include the newest geared turbofan engine.

The FAA published a proposed rule, or "airworthiness directive," in the Federal Register Thursday, which cites discovery of "multiple cracked ... turbine air seals" in Pratt's turbofan engines. The parts may be installed on as many as 991 airplanes, the FAA says, estimating the total cost to comply with the order at more than $13.6 million.

The "airworthiness directive" is a legally enforceable order issued by the FAA in accordance with federal law to correct an unsafe condition in a product. If implemented, the corrective order would be mandatory, an FAA spokesman said via email.

Specifically, the rule would require Pratt to remove and replace air seals from some of its turbofan engines wherever cracks are found.

"This condition, if not corrected, could result in failure of the air seal, uncontained air seal release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane," the directive states.

The proposed rule is available for public comment through Nov. 27 before the FAA formally adopts it.

The FAA, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates air travel. Pratt is a division of Farmington-based United Technologies Corp.

The notice "mirrors the language in the Alert Service Bulletin issued by Pratt & Whitney in May 2017," Pratt Spokesman Matthew Bates said. "We have already begun replacing this part as the engine fleet comes in for regularly scheduled service and will continue to address the issue as part of the service schedule."

CORRECTION: The FAA proposed rule refers to the turbofan engine, not the geared turbofan engine.