Speed Reads

air trouble

The FAA is on the lookout for exploding airplanes

A midair engine explosion on a flight last month has prompted the Federal Aviation Authority to mandate "visual inspections" of the parts in question. The components, Airbus A380 superjumbo engines, were the subject of an emergency directive released by the agency Thursday.

A Los Angeles-bound Air France Airbus experienced the engine trouble on Sept. 30 and made an immediate landing in a remote part of Canada. None of the passengers onboard were injured, Air France said, but the incident prompted the FAA to intervene.

The condition that caused the plane's engine, an Engine Alliance GP7200 series turbofan model, to fail midair may be present in other engines, the FAA's Emergency Airworthiness Directive said. Inspections will take place within two to eight weeks, depending on the usage of the plane.

The type of engine failure experienced on the Air France flight is rare, and airplane engines are designed to contain failures so that when a problem does occur, pieces of machinery do not break off of the plane. Still, the FAA is instructing operators to inspect the fan hub of all GP7200 series engines, as a malfunction could "lead to an uncontained release of the fan hub, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane," the FAA explains.

AirFrance is not the only airline that uses this specific engine on their line of A380 Airbuses; other carriers include Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, and Korean Air.

Perhaps avoiding midair explosions warrants more than just a "visual inspection"?