Maybe Think Twice…..

777-engine…… before getting on to your next Boeing 777 flight? It appears that Rolls Royce’s Trent 800 series of engines can stop working because the fuel in the engines freezes. Yuck ! The NTSB thinks current precautions are not sufficient to prevent possible fatal crashes. Redesign of the fuel system will take at least a year and in the mean time adding anti-freeze additives to the fuel is being considered.

It is not the only problem that’s haunting this aircraft. Two un-commanded rollbacks on two separate passenger flights have also not been solved yet. I, for one, will be happy to stick to my Jodel’s and Cessna’s for now.

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J.T. Wenting
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 20:58

It IS sensationalist. The aircraft was flying with idle engines because environmental regulations required a long continuous path idle descent rather than the more regular stepped descent which would have the engines working at normal RPM for a good part of the descent, preventing the fuel from freezing (remember that the fuel is heated by its use as a coolant for the engines).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 07:49

I don’t have the report on the redesign of the heat exchanger with me, but from what I understood, the redesign was to move the heat further “upstream”. They can’t put them in the wings or too close to the wings as I understand it because of the risks associated with fuel vapour in the tanks at low fill levels, but at least I believe some of the heat is supposed to be going above the engine into the mount rather than trying to ensure it is all cleared at the injectors. One of the big things that is causing… Read more »

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 05:40

This is sensationalism and press hype. The fuel, as Ian points out, can freeze on any aircraft no matter what aircraft, and it doesn’t matter what engines it has, they could stop as a result. There is an allowable percentage of water contamination in aviation Jet A1 which is like kerosine and when the water in that fuel freezes (it turns waxy) is when you get the problem. Leaving it to heat exchangers in the engines might be a little too late. Should there not be heat exchangers upstream a little. I have twice taken my family on a B777… Read more »

Monday, March 16, 2009 18:47

And Rolls Royce have already redesigned the heat exchangers to deal with it. The mod is going through testing and certification as it has to before it can be fitted. Pups: You cannot deal with a problem until it happens. I was just reading through this week’s Flight International and counted no less than five loss of power incidents reported – across a whole variety of aircraft (including a Cessna, Francois – you’re far more prone to ice-related loss of power than the heavies are.) The engine types involved included both GE and CFM on smaller Boeing types, plus an… Read more »

Monday, March 16, 2009 16:55

Hi John,

I think the US press is more ‘sensationalist’ than I am:

Not that it matters much, press is press….. without it we wouldn’t have half as much ‘fun’ with these global crises, now would we ? 😉