Sunday, February 25, 2024

Atlas Air engine that caught fire in Miami had loose plug, NTSB says

A preliminary report released Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board shows that the engine on an Atlas Air 747-8 cargo jet that caught fire last month during takeoff from Miami International Airport was inspected four days before the incident.

The crew of Atlas Air flight 3885 received a warning signal on its cockpit display of a fire on the No. 2 engine while climbing past 3,000 feet en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 18. The signal was followed by the fire bell sounding. The captain discharged a bottle of fire suppressant located in the engine compartment that extinguished the fire and safely returned to Miami airport, according to the agency’s report.

An inspection of the General Electric GEnx-2b67 engine revealed burn marks through part of the thrust reverser fan wall, but there was no evidence of an uncontained engine failure, the NTSB said. 

Damaged engine on Atlas Air Boeing 747-8 freighter. (Photo: NTSB)

The combustor diffuser nozzle case port borescope plug was not secured in the case and was found loose in the engine cowling. That finding is potentially significant because records show a third-party vendor performed a borescope nozzle inspection four days earlier, on Jan. 14, that required the removal of a borescope plug. The technician performing the work and an inspector initialed a work card indicating the task was completed in accordance with the instructions in the maintenance manual.

A borescope is a tool that allows an engine’s condition to be examined by checking its internal components. It has a long, fiber-optic tube with a camera attached to one end that sends video back to a monitor.

The NTSB investigation is ongoing and a final report is expected in 12 to 14 months.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

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