FAA orders Boeing 787 inspections, cites fuel leak risk

US FAA has issued an airworthiness directive ordering Boeing 787 operators to inspect the aircraft for “improperly assembled” engine fuel feed manifold couplings.

There are currently 38 787s in service. In a notice published this week in the US government’s federal register, FAA said it has “received reports of fuel leaks on two different in-service [787s] and the subsequent discovery of several improperly assembled engine fuel feed manifold couplings on in-service and production airplanes.”

FAA did not mention which operators reported the fuel leaks, but Ethiopian Airlines has told ATW that it experienced a fuel leak on a 787 during initial operations, adding that the problem is now “resolved.”

FAA said the improper coupling installations “occurred during production” and include “couplings with missing or improperly installed lockwire, parts within the couplings installed in the wrong locations, incorrect parts installed in the couplings, and couplings that have extra parts installed.”

The agency added, “These conditions, if not corrected, could result in fuel leaks, which could lead to fuel exhaustion, engine power loss or shutdown, or leaks on hot engine parts that could lead to a fire … An unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of this AD. The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule.”

ATW has requested a comment from Boeing. The manufacturer told The Seattle Times that about 19 in-service 787s have already been inspected and the company is making the necessary changes in its 787 production process.

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