United 777-200 uncontained engine event - cowling lands in front yard


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Some Boeing 777 airplanes likely to be removed from service, FAA says

Pete Muntean and Alaa Elassar

 

The Federal Aviation Administration is stepping up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and it's likely some will be removed from service, according to a statement from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

"We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday's incident," Dickson said, referring to the United Airlines flight that was forced to return to Denver International Airport Saturday after it suffered an engine failure shortly after takeoff.

"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," Dickson said.

 

Following the FAA announcement, United Airlines said in a statement that it is "immediately" removing 24 Boeing 777 planes that are powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines "out of an abundance of caution."

The 24 aircrafts are part of the 52 777s in the United fleet. The other 28 remain in storage. The move is voluntary and temporary, United said, and should only disrupt "a small number of customers."

This developing story will be updated.

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Boeing recommends grounding 777 aircraft after plane makes emergency landing in Denver

Plane suffered catastrophic engine failure, debris rained down on suburbs

The Associated Press · Posted: Feb 22, 2021 7:53 AM ET | Last Updated: 4 minutes ago
 
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United Airlines is temporarily removing Boeing's 777 aircraft from service after one of its planes suffered catastrophic engine failure and had to make an emergency landing on Saturday. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters)

Boeing has recommended that airlines ground all of its 777s with the type of engine that suffered a catastrophic failure over Denver on the weekend.

A United Airlines plane's right engine blew apart just after takeoff. Pieces of the casing of the engine, a Pratt & Whitney PW4000, rained down on suburban neighbourhoods.

 

The plane made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport. None of the 231 passengers or 10 crew on board was reported hurt, authorities said.

U.S. regulators have ordered United Airlines to step up inspections of Boeing's 777 aircraft, and United is temporarily removing the aircraft from service.

WATCH | Boeing recommends grounding certain 777s after engine failure:

 
mpx-stewart-777-debris-follow.jpg
 

Boeing recommends grounding certain 777s after engine failure, falling debris

10 hours agoVideo
2:17

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement Sunday that based on an initial review of safety data, inspectors "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."

The statement said that would likely mean some planes would be grounded — and Boeing said they should be until the FAA sets an inspection regime. Japan, meanwhile, also ordered the planes out of service, according to the financial newspaper Nikkei, while saying that an engine in the same family suffered trouble in December.

Engines for Air Canada's Boeing 777 aircraft were manufactured by General Electric.

Boeing said there were 69 777s with the Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines in service and another 59 in storage. United is the only U.S. airline with the engine in its fleet, according to the FAA, and it had 24 of the planes in service. Two Japanese airlines had another 32 in service.

"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," Boeing said in a statement issued Sunday.

The engine maker said it was sending a team to work with investigators.

Video showed engine engulfed in flames

The emergency landing this past weekend is the latest trouble for Boeing, which saw its 737 Max planes grounded for more than a year after two deadly crashes in 2019. The planes began returning to the skies late last year — a huge boost for the aircraft maker, which lost billions during the Max grounding because it has been unable to deliver new planes to customers.

Video posted on Twitter from Saturday's emergency showed the engine fully engulfed in flames as the plane flew through the air. Freeze frames from different video taken by a passenger sitting slightly in front of the engine and also posted on Twitter appeared to show a broken fan blade in the engine.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said that two of the engine's fan blades were fractured and the remainder of the fan blades "exhibited damage." But it cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions about what happened.

United says it will work closely with the FAA and the NTSB "to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service."

The NTSB said the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were transported to its lab in Washington so the data can be analyzed. NTSB investigations can take up to a year or longer, although in major cases the agency generally releases some investigative material midway through the process.

 

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1 hour ago, J.O. said:

The UA 777 had P&W 4000 series engines, just like the 747 freighter at Maastricht.

quite right i mixed up the types I blame that on not having my morning coffee. 😀

Regulators probe engine blow-outs as older Boeing 777s suspended
By Jamie Freed, David Shepardson and Laurence Frost 
(Reuters) - Showers of jet engine parts over residential areas on both sides of the Atlantic have caught regulators' attention and prompted the suspension of some older Boeing planes from service.

The Saturday incidents involving a United Airlines 777 in Denver and a Longtail Aviation 747 cargo plane in the Netherlands have put engine maker Pratt & Whitney in the spotlight - although there is as yet no indication that their causes are related.

Raytheon-owned Pratt & Whitney said it was coordinating with regulators to review inspection protocols.

Following the Colorado engine failure, when United Flight 328 dropped debris on a northern Denver suburb before landing safely, Boeing recommended the suspension of 777s with the same PW4000 turbine, and Japan made it mandatory.


The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) weighed in on Monday, requesting more information on the Pratt engines in light of both events. A woman sustained minor injuries in the Dutch incident, which scattered turbine blades on the town of Meerssen. One was found embedded in a car roof.


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would soon issue an emergency airworthiness directive.

Both incidents involve the PW4000 engine type that equips a relatively small number of older planes, some grounded by the pandemic, limiting the likely repercussions.

They nonetheless bring a new headache for Boeing as it recovers from the much more serious 737-MAX crisis, which saw its flagship narrowbody jet grounded after two deadly crashes.

"This is certainly an unwelcome situation for both Boeing and Pratt, but from time to time issues will pop up with aircraft and engines," said Greg Waldron, a managing editor at industry publication Flight Global.

"The PW4000-powered 777-200 is slowly fading from service," he said, and the COVID-19 slump means that airlines forced to suspend it "should be able to fill any network gaps" with 787s or other 777s equipped with General Electric engines.


Regulators probe engine blow-outs as older Boeing 777s suspended

The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older, less fuel-efficient models still flown by five airlines: United; Japan Airlines; ANA Holdings Inc; Asiana Airlines Inc and Korean Air. Most are in the process of being phased out.

Boeing said 69 of the 777s operating globally with PW4000s had been in recent service, with another 59 stored. Pratt & Whitney engines power less than 10% of the delivered 777 fleet of more than 1,600 planes.

United suspended 24 of its 777s, pre-empting Boeing's advice, after the Saturday blow-out that dropped the right engine's protective outer casing near homes.

In the Dutch case, the Longtail pilot was informed of an engine fire by air traffic control after taking off from Maastricht bound for New York, and diverted to Liege, Belgium.

The Dutch Safety Board said on Monday it was investigating the incident.

Examination of the 26-year-old United jet showed damage was mostly confined to the right engine, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said. Its inlet and casing became detached and two fan blades were fractured, with others exhibiting damage.

The FAA said early findings suggested that "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".

Earlier in-flight PW4000 engine failures have previously been examined by authorities.

Another United 777 of the same vintage suffered an engine failure in February 2018, when a cowling fell off about 30 minutes before the plane landed safely. A full-length fan blade fracture was behind the incident, the NTSB determined.

After a malfunction forced a Tokyo-bound JAL 777 to return abruptly to Naha airport in December, Japan's Transport Safety Board reported finding two damaged fan blades, one with a metal fatigue crack. Its investigation is ongoing.

JAL, which operates 13 of the planes, said they were scheduled for retirement by March 2022.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney, David Shepardson in Washington and Laurence Frost in Paris; additional reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu and Maki Shiraki in Tokyo, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Tim Hepher in Paris and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by Sam Holmes, Christopher Cushing and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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