NCAA Reviews Engines of Nigerian Airlines Aircraft over FAA Directive


By Chinedu Eze

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has started reviewing the engines of some commercial aircraft types manufactured by Boeing, especially Boeing B737 in reaction to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which ordered test on the aircraft engine types of South West Airlines Flight 1380, which exploded recently while airborne.

Last week one of the two engines of South West Airline Flight 1380 exploded while airborne, traveling from New York to Dallas with 149 passengers onboard.

The pilot of the flight declared emergency landing and took the airplane to rapid descent and landed successfully in Philadelphia.

The flight was operated by Boeing B737-700 with engines manufactured by CFM.

After the incident signals went all over the world for the inspection of the engine type, which is CFM 56-7B.

The Director General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman told THISDAY that the agency was reviewing the aircraft being operated by Nigerian airlines and dismissed the report that Arik Air and Air Peace would ground their operations because their aircraft have the engine type that exploded in the US.

Captain Usman said after the review if any aircraft engine was affected NCAA would take appropriate action.

THISDAY learnt that Arik Air has four Boeing B737-700 but informed source from the airline said the engine type was manufactured later than 2000-2001 when the engines of the Flight 1380 aircraft was manufactured.

Besides, FAA indicated that the engines that are being targeted are those that have undergone 3000 cycles.

However, FAA said it would issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) within the next two weeks that would require inspections of certain CFM56-7B engines.

The directive requires an ultrasonic inspection of fan blades when they reach a certain number of takeoffs and landings (3000 cycles). Any blades that fail the inspection would have to be replaced, the FAA said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Air Peace has reassured its passengers and explained that its aircraft were different from the Boeing 737-700 involved in the U.S. incident.

The airline said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Chris Iwarah that it had Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft, “which had been credited with perfect engine performance”, in its fleet.

The B737-300 and B737-500 aircraft are fitted with a CFM56-3C engine,” he said.

The airline said besides contracting one of the best aircraft maintenance companies in the world, BCT Aviation, to do routine maintenance of its fleet on ground its base in Lagos, it was spending huge foreign exchange to maintain its aircraft in some of the best facilities in the world to ensure that the safety of the flying public was not compromised.

“The FAA directive to airlines which operate aircraft with the same engine with the US carrier to perform ultrasonic inspection on the engines installed on NG B737-700 does not extend to engines installed on the classic aircraft, which we have in our fleet. Besides, our aircraft are maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance programme and manufacturer maintenance document,” Air Peace said.