Airbus plane that landed in Hudson River had engines which FAA had earlier ordered to inspect

Friday, January 23, 2009, 6:41 by Aviation Correspondent

It has been revealed that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had ordered stringent inspection of the type of engines on the US Airways plane that splash-landed in New York’s Hudson River after a few of those engines were found to have a rare kind of stall problem known as “compression stall.”

The Federal Aviation Administration, the agency of the United States Department of Transportation that regulates and oversees all aspects of civil aviation in the US, had, on December 13, 2008, ordered inspections of the CFM56-5B series of engines since a small number of them had experienced compression stalls, the website cnn.com quoted Alison Duquette, a spokeswoman for the FAA, as saying.

The FAA, she added, had issued an “airworthiness directive” on December 13, 2008, mandating that the CFM56-5B engine series be inspected and that United States-based airlines had complied with the directive and all the CFM56-5B engines were inspected. And, “globally, this was addressed before the January 15, 2009, incident involving the US Airways plane,” according to Alison Duquette.

The FAA ordered United States-based airlines to conduct detailed inspections of the CFM56-5B series engines when both engines recorded temperatures above a certain threshold and required the removal of at least one of those engines. However, officials of the FAA declined to say whether the engine turbines of the US Airways Flight 1549 had undergone the required scrutiny.

In a statement, GE Aviation, which co-owns CFM International which makes the CFM56-5B engines, said that the FAA directive for heightened inspection of CFM56-5B engines was triggered by six incidents of compressor stalls in planes with those engines.

According to the FAA, compressor stalls “could prevent continued safe flight or landing.”

GE Aviation said that 12 of the CFM56-5B engines had temperatures above what is considered acceptable and that it was “exceedingly unlikely” that any of those engines were in the US Airways plane that went down in the Hudson River since “we had checked every single engine in the fleet.”

Six compressor stalls out of 43 million flight hours indicate that the engines are “more reliable than an elevator,” the statement from GE Aviation stressed.

A compressor stall happens when the airflow is momentarily cut off and, in serious cases, a compressor stall can cause a violent shuddering of the plane and a shutdown of the engine.

CNN says that, on January 13, 2009, two days before US Airways Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River, the same plane – also named Flight 1549 and taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, the United States – had encountered problems. Four passengers on that flight on January 13 had said that the crew told the passengers on the intercom that the plane was experiencing “compression stalls.”

Meanwhile, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that there was an entry in the maintenance log of the plane that landed in the Hudson River that a compressor stall had occurred on January 13, 2009.