(Adds response from Lufthansa)
WASHINGTON, March 25 The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration on Tuesday ordered an immediate fix to the latest
version of Boeing Co's 747-8 plane, saying a software
glitch could cause it to lose thrust when close to landing and
fly into the ground.
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,
The rule, the fourth such directive involving the 747-8,
directly affects seven airplanes in the United States, the FAA
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
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.
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
Among passenger carriers, Lufthansa is the largest
operator, with 11. An airline spokesman said it had been
informed of the directive and was checking to what extent its
fleet of 747-8s was affected. He added the group was also
considering its response to the FAA.
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
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 in Frankfurt; Editing by Susan Heavey, Tom
Brown and Lisa Von Ahn)