Claim: Photographs show a damaged jet engine repaired with seatbelts during a refueling stop.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
UNSCHEDULED REFUELING: Choose your airlines carefully. Incredible! You might not want to fly "AIR CHINA"
Perhaps a Junk might be a safer mode of travel.
This is an excellent example of why any prudent traveler should generally stick with North American carriers, Western European carriers and a few other carriers like Quantas, Air New Zealand, and Singapore.
A pilot for a Chinese carrier requested permission and landed at FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) for an unscheduled refueling stop. The reason became soon apparent to the ground crew: The Number 3 engine had been shut down because of excessive vibration, and because it didn't look so good. It had apparently been no problem for the tough guys back in China: they took some sturdy straps and wrapped them around several of the fan blades and the structures behind, thus stopping any unwanted windmilling (engine spinning by itself due to airflow passing thru the blades during flight) and associated uncomfortable vibration caused by the suboptimal fan.
Note that the straps are seatbelts....how resourceful!
After making the "repairs", off they went into the wild blue yonder with another revenue-making flight on only three engines! With the increased fuel consumption, they got a bit low on fuel, and just set it down at the closest airport for a quick refill. That's when the problems started: The Germans, who are kind of picky about this stuff, inspected the malfunctioning engine and immediately grounded the aircraft.
(Besides the seatbelts, notice the appalling condition of the fan blades.)
The airline operator had to send money to get the first engine replaced (it took about 10 days). The repair contractor decided to do some impromptu inspection work on the other engines, none of which looked all that great either.
The result: a total of 3 engines were eventually changed on this plane before it was permitted to fly again.
LOOK AT THIS ENGINE.....The aircrew obviously had more balls than brains. Hard to believe anyone would take off with an engine in this condition.
Origin:The photographs displayed above have been circulated since at least as far back as 2001, in versions with text attributing them to Air China as well as a number of different airlines, in each case accompanied by the claim that a ground crew had hastily (and dangerously) repaired damaged jet engines on one of the airline's planes by using seat belts to hold them together, and the plane had taken off on a commercial flight in that state. While the pictures do show an engine that has been removed from an aircraft, when and where they were taken (and whether they have any connection to Air China or any other airline) is unknown. Nonetheless, they do not document a case of substandard repairs or an occurrence anything like the circumstances described in the accompanying text. The pictures included in the e-mail show engine fan blades that have suffered foreign object damage (FOD) such as encountering a bird strike or a hail storm, and the "seatbelts" are tie-down straps used to secure the engine to a shipping stand as it is removed from the aircraft for inspection, repair, or replacement.
Last updated: 07 June 2016
Originally published: 12 March 2007
"Civilian Plane Hit by Missile Over Baghdad."
Agence France Presse, The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 November 2003.