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Wednesday, January 21, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
No MD-80 engine woes reported in U.S.
By David Bowermaster
MD-80 operators in the United States, however, have reported no unusual problems with their Pratt & Whitney-manufactured engines and no service disruptions.
"Our maintenance folks are unaware of any problems of the type JAS has had," said Lou Cancelmi, a spokesman for Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which operates 27 MD-80s. "(Pratt & Whitney) has not indicated any need for us to adjust our existing maintenance procedures or conduct any special inspections," he said.
Federal Aviation Administration regulators are closely monitoring the JAS investigation. "We are currently gathering more information," said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus. "If there is a safety issue involved, we will act immediately."
Pratt & Whitney, sole supplier of MD-80 engines, has made more than 2,900 of its JT8D-200 model power plants since 1980.
A Pratt & Whitney spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
JAS, domestic arm of Japan Airlines, found cracks after pilots on flights Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 reported engine problems. Examinations at a Pratt & Whitney maintenance facility in Christchurch, New Zealand, found damage in stationary 2-inch stator blades that guide air in the engines' high-pressure compressors.
JAS subsequently examined 15 of its MD-80s and found similar engine damage on 12.
American Airlines is the world's largest MD-80 operator, with 362 of the single-aisle jets in its fleet of 799 aircraft as of Sept. 30.
John Hotard, an American spokesman, said the carrier has experienced just five similar cracks on its MD-80 engines over the past nine years and does not believe they are a major concern.
"We are still awaiting word from Pratt & Whitney on exactly what JAS has experienced," Hotard said. "We need to know more about these cracks and exactly where these cracks are located."
"Pratt & Whitney is taking the lead on (the investigation) because they're their engines," Verdier said. "We are involved only because they hang on our airplanes."
McDonnell Douglas manufactured 1,191 MD-80s in Long Beach, Calif., from 1980 to 1999. Boeing stopped taking new orders for the plane not long after completing its 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas.
David Bowermaster: 206-464-2724 or email@example.com
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