General Electric is seeking to reclaim a GEnx-1B engine involved in an embarrassing incident on a runway outside the Boeing 787 final assembly line in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Pieces of the engine's low-pressure turbine blades are understood to have ejected from the engine during pre-flight checks on the ground on 28 July, igniting a fire in the grass beside the runway.

The response to the fire shut down the North Charleston airport for 1h.

GE and Boeing are supporting an investigation of the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The circumstances suggest a one-off assembly error on the GEnx-1B, but GE wants to thoroughly examine the hardware before making a determination.

"GE is working aggressively to move the engine involved in the incident to a GE facility for an investigative tear down," the company says.

For the overall 787 programme, the incident adds a further complication to the long-delayed delivery of Air India's first three aircraft from the North Charleston plant.

It also comes only a week after an engine gearbox fault discovered in ground tests forced All Nippon Airways to ground five 787s powered by the GEnx-1B competitor - the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.

All five ANA 787s are expected to be returned to service by early this week. So far, the GEnx-1B incident has not prompted Boeing or GE to recommend any restrictions for in-service engines, which includes two 787s operated by Japan Airlines. The GEnx-1B also shares a common core design with the GEnx-2B that powers the 747-8 fleet.

The low pressure turbine is assembled by GE in Durham, North Carolina.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news