The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered an emergency inspection of all Boeing 747 jumbo jets to check a control cable leading to one of the giant plane's four engines, after a broken cable resulted in an engine suddenly surging to takeoff power as an Air France pilot was trying to land.
No one was hurt in the Dec. 2 incident in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but the plane ran off the runway, an FAA spokesman said.
The FAA inspection order said the broken cable to the left outboard engine "caused the engine to accelerate to an unusually high level of forward thrust (above takeoff power), which resulted in an uncontrollable asymmetrical thrust situation." In other words, one engine was trying to take off while the other three had been cut back to idle.
The FAA order requires all airlines using the 747 to inspect their planes and, if necessary, repair the cable within 48 hours. An FAA spokesman said the check and repair could be done in about an hour and that no disruption in flight schedules is expected.
The Air France plane was equipped with General Electric engines, but the FAA said the control cable was the same as that used on planes equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines. Thus, all 747s have to examined.
The FAA can mandate emergency inspections only for U.S. airlines, but it routinely informs foreign safety agencies when it takes such actions so they can alert their carriers.
There are about 600 Boeing 747s in service worldwide.