Dozens of B777 aircraft are set to be temporarily grounded following an engine failure on a United Airlines flight departing from Denver airport.
Boeing said that it is recommending “suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol”.
Only a handful of carriers operate this version of the B777, including United, Korean Air, Japan Airlines and ANA.
In a tweet United Airlines said:
“We are voluntarily and temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule. We will continue to work closely with regulators to determine any additional steps and expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.”
Meanwhile the FAA released the following statement by administrator Steve Dickson:
“After consulting with my team of aviation safety experts about yesterday’s engine failure aboard a Boeing 777 airplane in Denver, I have directed them to order an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitnet P4000 engines. This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service.
“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident. 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 777 airplanes.
“The FAA is working closely with other civil aviation authorities to make this information available to affected operators in their jurisdictions. The FAA’s aviation safety experts are meeting into the evening with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to finalize the details of the Airworthiness Directive and any accompanying service bulletins to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included in the order. Exact details of the inspection will be specified in the emergency order.”
Boeing said that it “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.
“Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.”
The news comes just months after Boeing’s B737 Max aircraft were declared safe to return to the skies, following two crashes in 2019 which killed 346 people.