UPDATE 1-Boeing warns of engine icing risk on 747-8s, Dreamliners


(Corrects to say JAL flies 787 only on international routes andthat 747-8 is powered only by GEnx engines)

By Alwyn Scott and Hideyuki Sano

SEATTLE/TOKYO, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Boeing advisedairlines on Friday about a risk of engine icing problems on itsnew 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes with engines made by GeneralElectric, urging 15 carriers to avoid flying them nearhigh-level thunderstorms.

The warning led Japan Airlines to pull 787Dreamliners from two international routes. Other affectedairlines include Lufthansa, United Airlines, an arm ofUnited Continental Holdings and Cathay Pacific Airlines.

"Boeing and JAL share a commitment to the safety ofpassengers and crews on board our airplanes. We respect JAL'sdecision to suspend some 787 service on specific routes," aBoeing spokesman said.

The move followed six incidents from April to Novemberinvolving five 747-8s and one 787 when aircraft powered by GE'sGEnx engines suffered temporary loss of thrust while flying athigh altitude.

The problem was caused by a build-up of ice crystals,initially just behind the front fan, which ran through theengine, said a GE spokesman, adding that all of the aircraftlanded at their planned destinations safely.

Boeing on Friday issued a notice prohibiting the affectedaircraft from flying at high attitude within 50 nautical milesof thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

Japan Airlines said on Saturday it will replace Dreamlinerson its Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore flights with other typesof aircraft while also dropping a plan to use 787s for itsTokyo-Sydney route from December.

JAL will continue to fly 787s for other internationalroutes, which are unlikely to be affected by cumulonimbus cloudfor the time being, a company spokesman said.

"The aviation industry is experiencing a growing number ofice-crystal icing encounters in recent years as the populationof large commercial airliners has grown, particularly intropical regions of the world," the GE spokesman said.

GE and Boeing are working on software modifications to theengine control system, which they will hope will eliminate theproblems, he added.

The 787 can be powered by either GEnx engines or rival Trent1000 engines made by Rolls-Royce Plc, while the 747-8 ispowered exclusively by the GE engine model. (Reporting by Tim Kelly and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by GregMahlich)

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