The United States Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive (AD) addressing a potential condition that could result in an uncontained failure of the Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, exclusively used on the Airbus A380.
According to the FAA, the AD was prompted by the results of an investigation conducted Engine Alliance’s investigation which revealed that some high-pressure turbine (HPT) interstage seals “were manufactured from material suspected to contain iron inclusion”.
The agency warned that if the condition is not addressed, it “could result in uncontained debris release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane”.
The manufacturer initially detected iron inclusion in a turbine disk, which used the same material as the HPT interstage seals, with the iron inclusion “attributed to deficiencies in the manufacturing process”. As such, the FAA determined that the seals “may have reduced material properties and a lower fatigue life capability due to iron inclusion, which may cause premature fracture and subsequent uncontained failure.”
The FAA justified making the issue a final rule AD without a Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) because “no domestic operators use this product”. Still, the FAA issued the directive as the state of design, since Engine Alliance is based in Connecticut, the US.
Nevertheless, according to the FAA’s estimates compliance with the AD, which affects GP7270, GP7272, and GP7277 engines, was estimated to cost $274,374 per product.
According to ch-aviation.com data, there are currently 68 active Airbus A380 aircraft powered by the engine, with the majority, bar four Korean Air and seven Qatar Airways units, belonging to Emirates. A further 58 are inactive: three still belong to Air France, which phased out the type during the pandemic, 29 are Emirates aircraft, 10 are owned by Etihad Airways, six are assigned to Korean Air, and three to Qatar Airways.
A further 12 are either stored or scrapped without an airline assigned to them, ch-aviation.com data showed.
The AD is effective June 26, 2023. The FAA is still accepting comments until July 24, 2023.