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Boeing Warns of Ice Risks for GE-Powered Dreamliners in Storms

Boeing Dreamliner Assembly
A worker looks at the engine of a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner during final assembly of the airplane at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Boeing Co., maker of the Dreamliner aircraft, told customers of some makes of General Electric Co.- powered engines to keep away from thunderstorms, which can cause ice crystals to form and reduce the engine’s thrust.

Japan Airlines Co., the world’s second-largest Dreamliner operator, will replace 787 Dreamliners on flights between Tokyo and Delhi with 777s starting tomorrow, and will also switch to 767s on its Tokyo-Singapore route, it said in a statement yesterday.

Boeing instructed carriers with the GEnx engines to avoid flying within 50 nautical miles (93 kilometers) of thunderstorms to reduce chances of ice crystals forming, the planemaker said in an e-mailed statement. The 787 had problems with its battery earlier this year that led to the plane being grounded for more than three months.

“There may be cases where we wouldn’t be able to go all the way round the cloud formation and we’d have to turn back,” Yuichi Kitada, a general manager in JAL’s engineering department, said yesterday in Tokyo. “We’re at the first step of discussing a solution to this problem with Boeing and GE.”

Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said the company alerted carriers and freight operators of 747-8s and 787s with GE engines, without specifying how many that was.

There have been six cases since April of planes with GEnx engines temporarily losing thrust in high-altitude icing conditions, according to an e-mailed statement from GE.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company is working on software modifications to eliminate the problem and expects them to be available in the first quarter of next year, the statement said.

Boeing said it will “work closely” with GE to address the issue.

ANA Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest operator of 787s, uses Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines on its Dreamliners and hasn’t received any notification to avoid certain weather conditions, Maho Ito, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said by telephone.

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