The FAA's so-called airworthiness directive covers Boeing's 747-8
and 747-8F planes with certain General Electric Co engines. It calls
for replacing defective software with a new, improved version.
The rule, the fourth such directive involving the 747-8, directly
affects seven airplanes in the United States, the FAA said.
If adopted internationally, the rule would cover a larger number.
Boeing's website said it had delivered 66 of the four-engine jets,
the company's largest, to customers worldwide since the model was
introduced in October 2011.
The problem never caused a problem in flight, Boeing said.
Because of the seriousness of the safety issues, the directive takes
effect April 9, skipping the usual comment period, although comments
can still be submitted, the FAA said.
Boeing said data analysis indicated a potential problem, and it
advised customers last year to update the software. It said it
believed the majority of operators had already done so.
The risk of failure was "extremely remote," Boeing said.
GE said it owned the software and jointly analyzed it with Boeing,
but plane maker decided to recommend the software change to
According to the FAA, the risk arises when a plane is changing back
into "air mode" while performing a "rejected or bounced landing."
That change halts hydraulic pressure used to stow the engine thrust
reversers, which slow the plane on landing, the agency said.
Without hydraulic pressure, the reversers may not stow fully and
might redeploy, which "could result in inadequate climb performance
at an altitude insufficient for recovery, and consequent
uncontrolled flight into terrain," the FAA said.
[to top of second column]
Unidentified business jet/VIP customers own the eight passenger
models of the aircraft in the United States, according to Boeing's
website. Air cargo company Atlas Air is the largest U.S. commercial
owner of the jet, with a fleet of eight 747-8F freighters.
passenger carriers, Lufthansa is the largest operator, with 11. It
said its planes were unaffected by the directive.
"GE has confirmed that all our engines already have the software
update that is required by the FAA," a spokesman said on Wednesday.
China's Cathay Pacific has 13 freighters and Cargolux, based in
Luxembourg, has nine.
Korean Airlines Co, Nippon Cargo Airlines Co Ltd and Volga-Dnepr UK
Ltd also own 787-8F freighters, according to Boeing's website.
Shares of Boeing were up 0.5 percent at $124.01 in afternoon
(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Alwyn Scott;
additional reporting by
Peter Maushagen and Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Erica Billingham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.