Safe to travel: Boeing 777 passenger jet deemed fit to fly
EUROPE’S air safety authority said on Friday (March 13) Boeing’s 777 passenger jet was safe to fly, despite concerns from a US transport authority that versions with Rolls-Royce engines could lose power in freezing weather.
“If there was a risk to fly the plane we would ground it”, said Daniel Holtgen, a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency.
“You can fly it safely and it is being flown safely, if you undertake the operational procedures that we have mandated,” he told by phone from Cologne, Germany.
British Airways said it would continue to fly its 15 Rolls-Royce-equipped Boeing 777 aircraft despite America’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ordering an urgent redesign to part of the engines.
“There have been no specific safety recommendations, that airlines should stop operating the aircraft,” a British Airways spokeswoman said.
She said the airline had adopted mandatory changes to flying procedures designed to prevent a repeat of the fuel blockage believed to have caused the crash of BA Boeing 777 at London’s Heathrow in January last year, seriously injuring one passenger.
The NTSB said on Wednesday (March 11) a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 suffered a similar loss of engine power or “rollback” while flying between Shanghai and Atlanta in November.
The pilot followed a standard procedure to recover engine power and landed the jet safely at its planned destination.
“With two of these rollback events occurring within a year, we believe that there is a high probability of something similar happening again,” NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said on Wednesday in a statement widely reported in the British media.
The NTSB ordered a redesign of the Rolls-Royce engine’s fuel/oil heat exchanger as a permanent way of stopping ice forming and restricting fuel flow.
It said the mandatory flying procedures ordered after the Heathrow and Delta incidents did reduce the risk of ice blocking the fuel supply.
It said the changes also added complexity to flight crew operations and could cause other hazards as they required the pilot to bring the plane lower.
Rolls-Royce is working on the component change but it may not be ready for installation for another 12 months, the NTSB said.
“We are working closely with the relevant air worthiness authorities to certify and deliver the modification as soon as possible,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.
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