GE confident GEnx engine issues resolved, vice chairman Rice says

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General Electric Co. (GE), the biggest maker of power-generation equipment, is confident it has solved the problems related to the engine failure of the GEnx that powers the 787 Dreamliner, the company's vice chairman John Rice said.

"We think its resolved. We think that the inspection process will keep it from happening again," John Rice said in an interview with Arabian Business.

In September, GE, the world's largest maker of jet engines, said it was investigating a second failure of the GEnx jet engine after a Boeing 747-8 freighter aircraft aborted a takeoff in Shanghai, China. That incident followed engine failure in July on a 787 Dreamliner jet being tested before delivery in South Carolina.

The US National Transportation Safety Board said no cracks were found on the 747-8 freighter, while a review of the pre-delivery engines revealed a GEnx engine installed on a 787-8 airplane that had not yet flown had a cracked fan mid-shaft (FMS).

"We think we have exactly the right inspection process which will ensure that if the procedures are followed we won't see another incident," Rice said.

"We also made a change in our manufacturing process to go to a treatment that was more environmentally responsible," he added. "The prior treatment had involved a lead based solution and we wanted to eliminate that because from the environmental perspective, lead is something you'd rather not use if you don't have to. Removing that created a weakness in the part that is not acceptable, so the fix is relatively straightforward which is to go back to the old process which has been proven for thousands of engines in service."

The GEnx family of engines which uses new technology and lighter materials, is the fastest-selling engine in GE Aviation history with more than 1,300 engines on order, according to the company's website. Compared to GE's CF6 engine, the GEnx engine offers up to 15 percent better fuel efficiency, which translates to 15 percent less CO2 and is about 30 percent quieter. The GEnx engine's NOx gases emissions are as much as 55 percent below today's regulatory limits, and as much as 90 percent below today's regulatory limits on the emission of other regulated gases.

Qatar Airways has placed orders for 60 Dreamliners - 30 firm and an option for 30 more - and selected General Electric's new-generation GEnx engine for the aircraft. The Doha-based carrier's CEO Akbar Al Baker has said the airline won't accept delivery of its planes until the "material defect in the engine" is fixed.

Etihad Airways which trails Emirates and Qatar Airways in size, has 41 Dreamliner 787-9 planes on order with GE engines, according to Boeing's website. Royal Jordanian, the first Middle Eastern carrier to buy the plane has seven 787-8 jets on order and Kuwait's leasing company ALFACO has 8 on order also with GE engines.

Bahrain's Gulf Air has 16 of the jets on order, Iraq 10, Saudi Arabian Airlines 8 and Oman Air 6. None of those orders have GE engines selected for the jets, according to Boeing's website.

The 787-8 sells for $206.8m while the 787-9 costs $243.6m, according to list prices, which don't account for discounts that airlines get.

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