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Boeing 777s Ban From Airspace

Due to the United Airline flight 328 had to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport after its engine caught fire shortly after take off to Honolulu. It had 231 passengers an 10 crew on board, the pilot issued a mayday call. The engine shed its housing and caught fire, debris from the twin jet rained down on the northern side suburb of Broomfield fortunately no one was hurt on board or on the ground. Picture of the plane debris was put out on social media with one engine part in someone’s front garden. A local person living in Broomfield called Kieran Cain told CNN: “We saw the plane go over, we heard a big explosion, we looked up and saw black smoke in the sky. Debris started to rain down, it looked like it was floating down and not very heavy, now looking at it its giant metal pieces all over the place.”

On the same day a separate incident occurred in the Netherlands, two people on the ground in Holland were slightly injured due to falling debris from a plane. Also in December 2020 a malfunction with the same engine forced a JAL International Flight to return to Naha. There was another emergency three years ago on another 777 operated by United, when the casing of the right-hand engine was blown off 45 minutes before landing in Honolulu. The US investigators found two fan blades had fractured, with the fragments flying out of the engine and puncturing the fuselage.

As of yet it is unclear what caused the blaze as jet engine failures do not occur often. The US authorities have ordered United Airlines to ramp up inspections on the plane. Initial examination of the Denver 777 engine showed that two fan blades had fractured, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. The flight data recorders have been taken to a lab in Washington for analysis. The US manufacturer has faced intense scrutiny over its safety record since the Boeing 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia where 346 people lost their lives. The Boeing 737 MAX has only just returned to service in the last few months after two years of being grounded.

Japans aviation regulator has now banned Boeing 777s jets if they are fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. Japans move came as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for Boeing 777s fitted with the PW4000 engines that have hollow fan blades. The UK has now barred the Boeing 777s from its airspace with the same type of engine. The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said he would “Continue to work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to monitor the situation.” “Any planes with the Whitney 4000-112 engines will be prevented from entering the UK.” The United Airlines has also temporally grounded all 24 of its Boeing 777s in current service. South Korea has made a statement saying it was monitoring the situation. Korean Air and Asiana based in Seoul have grounded affected aircrafts. Five airlines worldwide operate the 777 model using Pratt & Whiney engines, No UK carriers use that configuration. The 777-200s and 300s affected are older and less fuel-efficient than the models used by most operators, including British Airways whose 59 777s do not have the Pratt & Whitney engines. British Airways 777s are fitted with Rolls Royce Trent 800 and General Electric 90 engines.

Boeing made a statement saying “Boeing is actually monitoring recent events related to United Airlines flight 328 while the NTSB 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 FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.” “Boeing supports the decision by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, and the FAA’s action to suspend operations of the 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.”

Pratt & Whitney, which is owned by Raytheon Technologies, said after the United flight that it was “actively coordinating with operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval.” of its engines for the 777.

The FAA Administrator, Steve Dickinson, said he will require “immediate or stepped-up inspections” – and that some aircraft are likely to be removed from service as a result.