Air New Zealand is inspecting its Dreamliners for a possible fault with engine fire-fighting equipment following an alert from United States authorities.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an airworthiness directive over internal engine fire switches on Boeing models.

If the components fail, it could prevent the fire extinguisher agent from being released. If there's an engine fire, the FAA found it could get out of control, resulting in the wing of the carbon fibre plane failing.

''In the event of certain engine fires, the potential exists for an engine fire to be uncontrollable. This unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in the inability to extinguish an engine fire that, if uncontrollable, could lead to wing failure,'' the directive says


An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said that since the administration issued the directive in February, the airline had inspected every 30 days.

The airline had put the required checks into the regular maintenance schedule of its 13 Dreamliners.

''We have not found a defective component in checks of our fleet and this maintenance is not impacting our schedule in any way.''

The FAA said the directive covered 120 US-based Dreamliner 787s but as is standard practice it has been adopted around the world.

It decided against grounding the fleet, instead requiring airlines to inspect the engine fire handle every 30 days.

The Air New Zealand spokeswoman said safety was paramount and the airline was fully compliant with all directives issued by the FAA, European Aviation Safety Agency and Boeing.

The FAA says the checks are in place until a permanent fix is rolled out by Boeing.

The airline is reportedly already inspecting hydraulic tubing and components in tyre and wheel zones of some of its Dreamliners which could result in braking problems. Those checks too are being incorporated into routine maintenance.


The extra checks come as the impact of Dreamliner Roll-Royce engine problems for Air New Zealand recedes. At one stage problems with turbine blades meant up to five planes were out of action while repairs were being done in Singapore.

The fire-fighting equipment risk is the latest problem for Boeing which has had to ground its new model 737 Max planes around the world after two crashes claiming more than 340 lives.