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Hoaxes and Urban Legends: Chinese "fix" jet engine with seatbelts

In the run-up to the Peking Olympics an email that has been making the rounds that claims that a Chinese aircraft landed at Frankfurt airport with a badly damaged engine whose fan blades had been tied down with seatbelts. Three pictures show quite drastic damage. Supposedly the plane had taken off on a commercial flight in that state. While the pictures show an actual engine that has been removed from an aircraft, it is unclear where and when they were taken or if there is any connection to a Chinese airline at all. The text of the email is likely to be a hoax.

According to a thread on Snopes.com the same pictures have been circulating for a number of years, attributed to a number of different airlines. An Internet search shows that the pictures have been circulating since at least 02 April 2001.

According to this Chinese language thread, the 46 fan blades identify the engine as a (Pratt & Whitney) JT9D-7J which has not been used in mainland China after 2004. Production of the JT9D engine range stopped in 1990.

The "seat belts" appear to be safety ties attached while the damaged engine was being moved. Most likely the engine suffered Foreign Object Damage (FOD) such as a bird strike or a hail storm.

Please review:

Known email hoaxes:
The AOL/Microsoft money giveaway hoax
The "809" area code hoax
The burned baby hoax
Amy Bruce / Make A Wish hoax
The "Invitation" virus hoax
The "Life is beautiful" virus hoax
The Oliver North / Osama bin Ladin / Al Gore hoax
Send spam to the South African police to save children
Exxon/Mobile gas boycott
Bush IQ report / Lovenstein Institute hoax
Monkeyman935 warning hoax
Kidney Theft urban legend
Ashley Flores, 13 (missing child hoax)
How to detect a two-way mirror
$50 call-back spam
Cooking an egg with cell phones
"Osama captured" / "Osama hanged" virus
A tale of Japanese Lizards and Love
The $5 killer
Audi A8 made out of silver
ATM PIN code entered in reverse will call the police
Mars spectacularly close to Earth on August 27
"An old lady walked into a Grocery Store..."
"Allah or the Lord Jesus Christ?"
"PDA+GSM Palm Treo 650 dan Treo 680 dan Treo 750"
Bayer drug contains HIV
Forward or lose your Hotmail account
Chinese "fix" jet engine with seatbelts
AOL will donate five cents for baby's brain cancer operation
Ericsson distributing free laptops
Art Bell Filipino hate letter
Hypodermic needles on gas pump handles
"Through a rapist's eyes" / Crying Baby theory
Sheryl Crow / John Hopkins Cancer update about plastic bottles
Children buried alive in Egypt, saved by Jesus
Missing child - Regina George Muñoz
Papaya Juice - (NOT!) A Cure for Dengue
Hiroshima 64 years later (is actually Yokohama)
Lou Dobbs video on Immigration/Amnesty bill (dead since 2007)


Example chain letter:

Chinese Fix-Its

Ah, China; the new manufacturing arm of US Industry.

Can you believe this story ??


For anybody who is not familiar with a jet engine, a jet fan blade should be perfectly smooth.

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 shutdown previously because of excessive vibration, and because it didn't look too good. It had apparently been no problem for the tough guys on the ground back in China: as they took some sturdy straps and wrapped them around two of the fan blades and the structures behind, thus stopping any unwanted wind-milling (engine spinning by itself due to airflow passing thru the blades during flight) and associated uncomfortable vibration caused by the sub optimal fan.





Note that the straps are seat-belts ....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 (FRA) 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 seat-belts, notice the appalling condition of the fan blades.) The airline operator had to send a chunk of money to get the first engine replaced (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.

And you all were worried about toys with lead paint!

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