Boeing 777 jets grounded after Denver engine failure
Japan, US & UK ban flights of jets using Pratt & Whitney engines
Aircraft maker Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide after a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane over Denver on Saturday.
Regulators in Japan and the US have grounded planes after Boeing on Sunday said airlines using the same type of Pratt & Whitney engine should suspend operations until inspections were conducted. Britain followed suit on Monday afternoon.
"Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328. While the National Transportation safety Board investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identifies the appropriate inspection protocol,” Boeing said in a statement.
“Boeing supports the decision yesterday by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, and the FAA’s action today to suspend operations of 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines. We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.”
Saturday’s incident occurred as United flight 328 left Denver International Airport en route to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board when one engine failed just after take-off. The disintegration scattered debris across Denver before the aircraft made an emergency landing.
Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted picture of the debris near homes and on sports fields in the area. No passengers or people on the ground were injured.
United said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty. Japanese authorities ordered Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney engines while it considered whether to take additional measures.
Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said it had "suspended this configuration's use in UK airspace. It is not used by any UK airlines".
Many aircraft are in storage at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency directive late on Sunday that required immediate or stepped-up inspections of planes similar to the one involved in the Denver incident.
“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA said in a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson.
“Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.
“This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service.”