Boeing Co. warned airlines of possible problems with the engine mounts of 747 jumbo jets before a cargo version of the plane smashed into a Dutch apartment building, a Swissair official said Tuesday.
"We had a telex sent out from Boeing last week to all 747 operators" urging them to check for cracks in the pins in the pylon connecting the engine to the wing within 90 days, Swissair spokesman Hannes Kummer said in a telephone interview.Dutch officials said the Israeli plane that crashed Sunday evening lost the two engines from its right wing shortly after taking off at Amsterdam's airport. They said the pilot was unable to maneuver the plane back for an emergency landing. More than 250 people were feared killed on the ground.
Boeing, which is based in Seattle, said Monday that it was asking airlines to inspect the four-inch pins. It was not clear from the comments by a Boeing spokesman when the warning was issued.
The spokesman, Christopher Villiers, said in Seattle that Boeing had not found any evidence linking the pins to the accident in the Netherlands or a similar one involving a China Airlines cargo plane but regarded it as prudent for airlines to inspect their planes.
The parts, known as fuse pins, are designed to break off and let an engine fall cleanly from the wing if an engine locks up during flight, Boeing spokesman Tom Cole said. That prevents an engine from twisting and tearing open the wing.
Kummer, the Swissair spokesman, said the notice received from Boeing was based on an investigation of the crash in Taiwan of a China Airlines cargo plane in December that indicated the problem might have involved the engine pylon.
Five crew members were killed in that crash, which occurred after the 747-200 cargo plane also lost both engines on its right wing.
Kummer said he did not know if Boeing had sent a new advisory Monday or simply disclosed publicly that it had issued the notice "because again they lost the engine and that's not really everyday business."