Engine anti-ice devices broke off on crashed Fokker 70

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Investigators probing the emergency landing of an Austrian Fokker 70 outside Munich on 5 January have discovered ice-protection devices on both Rolls-Royce Tay engines had broken away from the cowlings.

Nine other Fokker 70 aircraft in the Austrian and Austrian Arrows fleet have been recalled by the carrier’s technical division in order to undergo immediate checks on the devices, known as ice-impact trays.

These trays are mounted behind the engine blades and are designed to protect the engine core from the possibility of ice-fall while flying in freezing conditions.

It follows preliminary revelations from German investigators stating the crew reported that both Rolls-Royce Tay powerplants on the crashed aircraft lost power while approaching Munich Airport.

Austrian says that while the loss of the ice-impact trays has been determined, it is not wishing to pre-empt the formal investigation into the accident, which badly damaged the aircraft – although all 32 passengers and crew escaped serious injury.

“Why the panels broke away has not yet been established,” says Austrian. “This is one of the objects of the on-going investigation.”

Ice-impact trays in the other nine Austrian and Austrian Arrows Fokker 70s are being checked in order to see whether they are secure and in good condition.

“These detailed analyses by the technical department raised questions regarding the system used for the mounting of the ice-impact trays,” says the carrier, adding that these issues are being addressed by Rolls-Royce and other specialists.

Austrian’s technical department has also introduced tighter maintenance procedures following the accident. These include inspection of the ignition and de-icing systems.

German accident investigation authority BFU says in an initial statement that the aircraft’s flight recorders have been sent to the agency for analysis. But it adds little else, saying simply: “The aircraft could not hold the intended flight altitude during the approach procedure, for reasons not yet determined.”

Rolls-Royce is participating in the investigation. A spokesman says: “We are co-operating fully with the inquiry. The investigation into the precise circumstances is on-going. Clearly the full facts will be published when this is complete. It is not appropriate for us to speculate during an active inquiry.”

Insurance assessors and maintenance company Fokker Services are examining the crashed aircraft to determine the extent of the damage and the prospects for repairing the twin-jet.