The US 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, improved version.
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.
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.
GE said it owned the software and jointly analyzed it with Boeing, but plane maker decided to recommend the software change to customers.
“GE has confirmed that all our engines already have the software update that is required by the FAA,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.