Emergency AD Issued For PT6 Turbine Blade Failures

Emergency AD Issued For PT6 Turbine Blade Failures

In response to concerning reports of turbine blade failures in Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6 engines, both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada have taken decisive action to address potential safety risks. The issuance of an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) by Transport Canada on February 15 has mandated the grounding of aircraft equipped with certain PT6 turboprop engines until turbine blade replacements are conducted.

The decision to ground aircraft follows reports of three PT2 blade failures, all of which were contained, but nonetheless raise significant safety concerns. Preliminary investigations by P&WC have revealed that the power turbine modules in all affected engines contained newly manufactured part number blades from the same raw material, with each engine accumulating less than 25 hours of air time since new.

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According to the AD issued by Transport Canada, the failure of PT2 blades could result in engine power loss or in-flight shutdown, potentially compromising the control of the aircraft. The directive specifically targets affected PT2 blades that have accumulated less than 50 hours of air time since new, since a shop visit, or since second-stage power turbine repair.

P&WC's parent company, RTX, has estimated that approximately 160-180 PT6A and PT6E turboprops are affected by the directive. Operators are required to replace the affected blades prior to the next flight, underscoring the urgency of addressing this issue to ensure aviation safety.

The issuance of Emergency ADs by both the FAA and Transport Canada underscores the seriousness of the situation and the priority placed on addressing potential safety hazards. Collaboration between regulatory authorities, manufacturers, and operators is essential in identifying the root cause of turbine blade failures and implementing effective corrective measures.

As investigations continue and mitigation efforts progress, it is imperative for operators and maintenance personnel to adhere strictly to the directives outlined in the ADs. The safety of passengers and the integrity of aviation operations depend on proactive measures to address potential risks swiftly and comprehensively.

The PT6 engine, widely used in various aircraft models across different sectors of aviation, has faced scrutiny following reports of turbine blade failures. Such failures pose a significant risk to flight operations, potentially leading to engine damage or loss of power, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

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The Emergency AD mandates immediate inspections of PT6 engines to detect any signs of blade degradation or damage. Operators are required to conduct thorough visual and borescope inspections, focusing on critical areas of the turbine blades. Any discrepancies or anomalies discovered during these inspections must be addressed promptly to prevent further risk to flight safety.

Additionally, the directive outlines specific criteria for identifying blade damage that necessitates immediate engine removal and replacement. This proactive approach aims to mitigate the risk of in-flight engine failures and safeguard both aircraft and passengers.

Operators and maintenance personnel are urged to adhere strictly to the guidelines outlined in the Emergency AD to ensure the continued airworthiness of PT6-powered aircraft. Failure to comply with these directives could result in severe consequences, including grounding of affected aircraft and potential enforcement actions by aviation authorities.

The issuance of this Emergency AD underscores the FAA's commitment to upholding the highest standards of aviation safety. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing diligence required to identify and address potential risks within the aviation industry promptly.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, the manufacturer of PT6 engines, is collaborating closely with regulatory authorities and operators to address the issue comprehensively. Efforts are underway to investigate the root causes of turbine blade failures and implement effective corrective measures to enhance engine reliability and safety.

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About the Author: Jim Kerr, Chief Pilot and Aviation Industry Expert

Jim Kerr, with over 35 years in the aerospace sector, is the founder of SkyboundGear, Chairman of LJ Aero, a next-generation aviation data aggregator. A Embry Riddle Aeronautical University alumni and a seasoned Pilot, Jim holds an array of FAA certifications, including Airframe and Powerplant, and Part 107 Commercial Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) remote drone pilot. His extensive piloting experience spans thousands of hours in single and multi-engine aircraft.

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