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NTSB Investigating American Engine Failure

June 13, 2006 By: Susan Young Travel Agent

The National Transportation Safety Board is actively investigating an "uncontained" engine failure on an American Airlines B-767 that was undergoing maintenance testing, June 2, at Los Angeles International Airport. Several parts broke off one engine and were found imbedded in the fuselage and in a second engine. Parts were even scattered more than 3,000 feet from the aircraft. In aviation circles, an uncontained engine failure is considered unusual and exceptionally dangerous. Normally engines that experience mechanical problems or any breaking of internal components are shut down safely in flight by pilots, and any breakage is contained within the engine and its cowling so the aircraft is not in danger; planes are designed and must be certificated by the FAA to take off and land on one engine. However, in this case, numerous holes were punched in the airplane's wings by pieces of the engine. That caused fuel leaks that led to a ground fire that was extinguished by airport fire department personnel. Had the failure occurred in flight, it could have been disastrous. Foreign object debris on a Paris runway several years back, for example, pierced the fuel tank of a Concorde jet causing an accident that killed all onboard. The NTSB has taken parts from the American engine for analysis and the initial investigation revealed fatigue cracks. At a later date, the NTSB will issue a full report citing the official cause and what, if any, corrective steps should be taken on maintenance of similar engines operated by American and other airlines. For now, the incident seems to be an isolated one.

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