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FAA orders emergency inspections of 2,000 Boeing 737s engines

FAA orders emergency inspections of 2,000 Boeing 737s after engine failures post-coronavirus storage

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive  (AD) for 2,000 Boeing 737s that have been parked.

The FAA issued the directive after inspectors found compromised air check valves when bringing the aircraft out of storage, agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. Corrosion on the “fifth stage bleed air check valve” could result in dual-engine failure, he said.

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Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-16-51 is sent to owners and operators of The
Boeing Company Model 737-300, -400, -500, -600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series
airplanes.

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This emergency AD was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns due to engine bleed air 5th stage check valves being stuck open. Corrosion of the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve internal parts during airplane storage may cause the valve to stick in the open position. If
this valve opens normally at takeoff power, it may become stuck in the open position during flight and fail to close when power is reduced at top of descent, resulting in an unrecoverable compressor stall and the inability to restart the engine. Corrosion of these valves on both engines could result in a dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart. This condition, if not addressed, could result in compressor stalls and dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart, which could result in a forced off-airport landing.

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Inspections and Corrective Actions
(1) For any airplane that is in storage on or after the date of receipt of this AD, and any airplane that, as of the date of receipt of this AD, has been operated for 10 or fewer flight cycles since returning to service from the most recent period of storage: Before further flight, do the inspections
specified in paragraphs (h)(1)(i) and (ii) of this AD on the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve on each engine. If any engine bleed air 5
th stage check valve fails any inspection, replace that engine
bleed air 5th stage check valve before further flight. For each engine bleed air 5th stage check valve
that passes both inspections specified in paragraphs (h)(1)(i) and (ii) of this AD, do the actions 3 specified in paragraph (h)(2) of this AD on that engine bleed air 5th stage check valve before further
flight.

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(i) Rotate the flapper plates by hand at least 3 times. If the flapper plate moves smoothly,
without signs of binding or sticking, from the fully closed position to the stop tube using gravity force
alone, the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve has passed this inspection.
(ii) Measure the clearance between the flapper bushings at both locations on each engine
bleed air 5th stage check valve. If the clearance between the flapper bushings is a minimum of 0.004 inch (0.102 mm) at both locations, the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve at that location has passed this inspection.
(2) For each engine bleed air 5th stage check valve that passes the inspections specified in paragraphs (h)(1)(i) and (ii) of this AD, do the inspections specified in paragraphs (h)(2)(i) through
(iii) of this AD before further flight on the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve on each engine. If any engine bleed air 5
th stage check valve fails any of the inspections specified in paragraphs (h)(2)(i) through (iii) of this AD, replace that engine bleed air 5
th stage check valve before further flight.
(i) Do a general visual inspection of the flapper bushings for signs of cracks, fractures, and
missing bushing heads. If the flapper bushings do not show any signs of cracks, fractures, or missing
bushing heads, the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve has passed this inspection. Signs of corrosion are not a cause for replacing the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve if the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve did not fail any of the inspections specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this AD.
(ii) Using only hand pressure, try to rotate the flapper bushings in the flapper plates. If the bushings do not rotate in the flapper plate, the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve has passed this inspection.
(iii) Do a general visual inspection of the check valve for signs of the flappers rubbing against the valve body. If the flappers do not show any signs of rubbing against the valve body, the engine
bleed air 5th stage check valve has passed this inspection.
(i) Minimum Equipment List Relief for Certain Airplanes
For airplanes that have operated 10 or fewer flight cycles since the most recent period of storage prior to receipt of this AD, as an alternative to compliance with paragraph (h): If allowed by
the operator’s FAA-approved Minimum Equipment List, the airplane may be dispatched with one engine’s engine bleed air high stage valve locked closed. Thereafter, within 5 additional flight cycles,
inspect the engine bleed air 5th stage check valve on both engines as required by paragraph (h) of this
AD.

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Source : Airworthiness Directive

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He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

Aerospace

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777


China’s Comac aircraft company is currently underway with the development of its own wide-body aircraft, the C939, positioned to compete with industry stalwarts like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the future. This strategic move by Comac involves crafting the next iteration with enhanced capacity and extended range capabilities, marking a significant leap forward in technological advancement compared to the current C919 aircraft.

Air China has inked a substantial deal worth a staggering $10.8 billion, based on list prices, to acquire 100 Comac C919 jets, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the domestic challenger to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

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China Comac C919 Total Order

With both China Southern and Air China combining orders for nearly 200 aircraft, the prospects for the new C919 aircraft appear increasingly promising for future fleet growth. To date, Comac has garnered orders for nearly 1,100 aircraft.

China is contemplating the development of another wide-body aircraft, the C939, poised to significantly bolster the aerospace industry in China.

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COMAC has initiated work on the C939, a new wide-body airliner. While design concepts have been formulated, it will still take several years before a prototype materializes, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, citing anonymous sources.

Initially intended to be a joint venture with Russia, plans were halted due to Russia’s decision to safeguard its copyrights and technological advancements within its borders. Consequently, collaboration between China and Russia on aircraft development was discontinued. Sources suggest that China is vigorously pursuing new avenues for the independent development of its own wide-body aircraft, crucial for accommodating larger passenger capacities and extended flight ranges.

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Comac C939 competes with Boeing 777 and A350

Information regarding the program remains limited. COMAC has refrained from commenting on the development of the new aircraft type, stating that official announcements will be made in due course. Nevertheless, the C939 could potentially accommodate up to 390 passengers, positioning it to compete with the largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

In addition to the prospective C939, COMAC is already advancing with the development of another widebody aircraft, known as the C929. This aircraft is poised to rival the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330, boasting 280 seats and a range approaching 6,500 nautical miles.

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Since obtaining certification in late 2022, the COMAC C919 has been operational, accumulating nearly 1,000 firm orders, predominantly from Chinese-owned airlines and leasing companies.

With multiple widebody aircraft in the pipeline, COMAC stands to achieve parity with the two leading international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, with its 777 and 787 models, and Airbus, with the A330neo and A350, both have a comparable range of offerings. However, Boeing’s aircraft are encountering delays and production challenges despite substantial orders, while the A350 is performing commendably, though the A330neo’s order intake has not met initial projections.

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How much does C919 cost?

China is under pressure to fulfill the current orders for the C919 aircraft, prompting plans to expand production facilities across various regions within the country. The aim is to ramp up production capacity for C919 planes to 150 aircraft annually over the next five years. The latest reports indicate that the C919 is priced around $99 million, comparable to the price of Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 aircraft, with expectations for further price reductions in the future.

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While the C919 has yet to be certified in major aviation markets outside of China, only four have been delivered thus far. In the long term, COMAC’s widebody aircraft will vie for global competitiveness. One potential benefit of COMAC aircraft could be in reducing China’s reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. However, this shift won’t happen immediately; the current delivery rate of four aircraft in nearly 18 months is not sustainable, and both Airbus and Boeing have established manufacturing facilities in China to cater to its sizable market.

Nevertheless, assuming COMAC addresses the issues impeding deliveries, there’s a plausible scenario where the manufacturer assumes a significant role, particularly as China’s aviation market continues to expand.

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As the C939 progresses through its development stages, more details are expected to emerge. Comparisons between official specifications of the C929 and C939 will be noteworthy, as will the initial orders for each aircraft type. However, it’s anticipated that neither will undergo test flights or enter into service for several years.

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Aerospace

Airbus Reveals Innovative Hybrid Aircraft, Blending Plane and Copter Designs

Airbus Reveals Innovative Hybrid Aircraft, Blending Plane and Copter Designs

Airbus Helicopters has unveiled a groundbreaking innovation in rotorcraft technology with the introduction of an experimental hybrid aircraft, blending the features of a plane and a helicopter.

Named the Racer, this one-of-a-kind demonstrator model integrates traditional overhead rotor blades with two forward-facing propellers, aiming stability with speed. The primary objective behind this engineering marvel is to significantly reduce response times for critical missions such as search-and-rescue operations.

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Priced at 200 million euros ($217 million), the Racer represents a pioneering leap in rotorcraft design, poised to revolutionize the industry. Beyond its immediate applications, including search-and-rescue missions, the Racer’s potential extends to military endeavors, aligning with NATO’s ongoing exploration of next-generation helicraft. However, the realization of such prospects hinges upon the alignment of future operational requirements.

Designed to operate at a cruise speed exceeding 400 km/h, the Racer demonstrator is meticulously engineered to strike a delicate balance between speed, cost-efficiency, and mission performance.

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Notably, the aircraft targets a notable reduction in fuel consumption, aiming for a 20% decrease compared to contemporary helicopters of similar caliber. This feat is made possible through aerodynamic optimization and an innovative eco-mode propulsion system, developed in collaboration with Safran Helicopter Engines.

The hybrid-electrical eco-mode system allows for the temporary suspension of one of the two Aneto-1X engines during cruise flight, thereby contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions. Moreover, the Racer seeks to address environmental concerns by focusing on lowering its operational acoustic footprint, showcasing its commitment to sustainability.

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Building upon the success of Airbus Helicopters‘ X3 technology demonstrator, which previously pushed the boundaries of helicopter speed by achieving a remarkable 472 km/h, the Racer represents a significant evolution in aerodynamic configuration and technological innovation.

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Aerospace

IndiGo to Order 100 Small Planes from Airbus, ATR, or Embraer

IndiGo to Order 100 Small Planes from Airbus, ATR, or Embraer


IndiGo, India’s leading airline, is in talks with three aircraft manufacturers to acquire a fleet of at least 100 smaller planes, aiming to bolster its regional operations, as per a report by the Economic Times.

The airline’s recent order of 30 A350 aircraft underscores its strategic focus on expanding its reach with wide-body and long-range planes, targeting increased traffic from various regions across the country.

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Now, the focus shifts to enhancing connectivity on shorter routes within India’s domestic network, tapping into the regional airline market. IndiGo is currently in discussions with ATR, Embraer, and Airbus for this purpose. With 45 ATR-72 aircraft already in operation, accommodating 78 passengers each, and five more expected this year, the airline is leaning towards ATR, although Airbus A220 and Embraer’s E-175 remain contenders.

Having established itself as a key operator of Airbus A320 aircraft, with over 450 on order for future delivery, IndiGo continues to strengthen its fleet.

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This move follows closely on the heels of the recent agreement to purchase 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, a significant step that will facilitate the airline’s expansion both domestically and internationally. This deal marks IndiGo’s entry into the wide-body aircraft segment, further solidifying its position in the market.

IndiGo’s strategy includes penetrating tier 1, 2, and 3 cities within India’s regional aviation market using smaller aircraft.

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As India maintains its status as the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, airlines are striving to meet the escalating demand amid challenges faced by aircraft manufacturers in meeting production targets.

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