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Boeing warns 15 airliners over ice build-up on 747-8, 787

Nov. 25, 2013, Seattle, Wa. - Boeing has advised 15 airlines operating GE-powered 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner jets to avoid high-level thunderstorms due to the risk of engine ice forming.


November 25, 2013
Carey Fredericks

Dreamliners, powered by the GE's GEnx engines, should not be allowed to fly within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms in order to eliminate risk of ice formation and temporary thrust losses.

The issue has prompted Japan Airlines (JAL) to replace Boeing's Dreamliner aircraft on its Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore routes with other aircraft types.

The carrier also abandoned its plan to use 787 jets for its Tokyo-Sydney flight from December this year.

A Boeing spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that the planemaker and JAL share a commitment to the safety of passengers and crews on board airplanes.

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"We respect JAL's decision to suspend some 787 services on specific routes," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, GE plans to implement software changes by March next year in order to prevent the ice accumulation that has sometimes resulted in its GEnx engines losing thrust on Boeing 747-8 and Dreamliner aircraft.

Since April 2013, Boeing jets operating in high-altitude thunderstorm conditions have suffered occasional engine power loss due to ice build-up.

These are the latest among the technical issues that have hit Boeing's Dreamliner since its launch following the temporary grounding of the entire fleet earlier this year due to battery issues.

Despite the growing technical problems, Boeing has received orders for over 1,000 Dreamliner aircraft.