UPDATE 1-FAA orders A380 engine inspections after Air France incident

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. aviation authorities have ordered visual inspections of fan hubs in engines used on some Airbus SE A380 jets after an engine came apart on an Air France flight last month, forcing it to make an emergency landing.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive requiring owners and operators of Engine Alliance (EA) Model GP7200 series engines to visually inspect the engines and remove the fan hub if defects are found.

The EA engines are manufactured by a 50-50 joint venture between General Electric Co and United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney unit.

The FAA directive formalizes advice circulated by the engine company on Thursday. EA declined immediate comment.

GP7200 engines account for 60 percent of the global market share of engines that power Airbus A380 superjumbos currently in service, according to Corrine Png, the CEO of transport research firm Crucial Perspective.

In addition to Air France, the affected airlines include Emirates, the world’s largest A380 operator, as well as Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Korean Air Lines Co.

The FAA said the directive, an interim measure, was prompted by the failure of the fan hub on the affected engine on the Air France aircraft.

“An investigation to determine the cause of the failure is on-going and we may consider additional rulemaking if final action is identified,” it said in a statement.

Depending on the number of flight cycles, the inspections must be performed within the next two to eight weeks.

A380 aircraft powered by the rival Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC Trent 900 engine are not affected by the directive.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs