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FAA Issues Airworthiness Directive for A320neo Engines

Manufacturing Issues Affects Stage 1 Disks, Compressors in LEAP 1-A Engines

The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive for the LEAP 1-A engines used in the Airbus A320neo family of aircraft, working on a notice from their manufacturer regarding materials deficiencies in their construction.

CFM International pointed out the discovery that iron was detected in 3 non-LEAP-1A HPT rotor disks, parts used in the 1st stage of the engine. Further investigation began to show additional issues, too, with CFM citing additional "iron inclusion" in additional parts. The result? Parts like the high-pressure turbine disks, forward outer seals, and compressor rotor for stages 6 through 10 can fail long before their life expectancy would normally indicate. 

Given the risks of premature fracturing and "subsequent uncontained failure", the FAA has ordered that operators of affected engines must replace 3 parts in each engine. The HPT Stage 1 disk, forward outer seal, and compressor rotors will add up to quite a princely sum by FAA estimates. By the FAA's estimation, the labor and parts for all required changes will cost about $50,000 short of $10 million. The Directive is expected to affect 38 engines installed on US-registered aircraft. But, 'safety of flight' issues are what they are. Much like motorcyclists say a rider can "sweat...or bleed", the industry can pay for medicine now, or surgery later.

FMI: www.federalregister.gov

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