“Last week we were already in the process of undertaking activity and analysis to reduce the inspection interval,” Dickson said to CNN on Wednesday.
The FAA review was prompted after a December failure of a PW4000 series engine on another Boeing 777-200 in Japan.
Federal regulators had required thermal inspections of engine fan blades for wear and tear every 6,500 times the PW4000 series engine is turned on, a measure officially known as cycles. Cracks and damage can be so small or hidden that they are not visible to the naked eye.
The PW4000 series engine that failed Saturday was “far short” of the 6,500 cycles that would prompt the next inspection, the source said. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, said it will review maintenance records; it has not specified the number of cycles on the engine since the last inspection.
The incidents have engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney recommending significantly more frequent inspections, according to a company service bulletin obtained by CNN. The bulletin, issued two days after the Denver incident, recommended each engine’s 22 fan blades be inspected every 1,000 cycles, but it’s unclear what the FAA will ultimately require.
“Until we know more about this particular event, we felt that was the safest course of action,” Dickson said in the CNN interview. “There’s also the possibility that there will be other types of inspections that could be performed going forward using different technologies.”
Dickson said the FAA does not see a pattern of engine failures that should concern travelers and that he would feel comfortable flying on the Boeing 777.
“The safest form of travel in human history is commercial jet travel in the United States, or on a US carrier,” Dickson said. “And the actions that we are taking at the agency are designed to make sure that it stays that way.”