Experts said Monday that the Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine caught fire and forced United pilots to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Denver. At least two other flights had similar explosions.
Three years ago, this was a damaged fan blade of a PW4000 engine that powered another United Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft, this time while flying over the Pacific on a San Francisco-Honolulu flight.
In December last year, on a Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 flying from Naha to Tokyo, the fan blades of two engines of the same type broke.
Just like in Denver, the pilots on both flights were able to land the plane safely and no one was injured.
Aviation expert Greg Feith said on NBC’s “Today” program: “This is not the first time.” He was referring to a PW4000 engine failure.
However, after the fiery incident over Colorado on Saturday and the photos were all the rage on social media, Boeing has grounded all of its older 777-200 aircraft to the world, and federal investigators checked the For the PW4000 engine on the plane, only United Airlines uses American airlines and Japanese and Korean airlines.
In particular, US Federal Aviation Administration Commissioner Steve Dickson said, “Inspection is being strengthened to use the hollow fan blades unique to this engine model used only on Boeing 777 aircraft.”
Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the defective blade was only used on the “first generation” of the PW4000 engine.
Hall told NBC News: “I suspect that the reason the planes were all withdrawn was that they (the FAA and Pratt & Whitney) did not have any inspection procedures and felt embarrassed.” “In the past ten years, The FAA has been responding to the economic interests of the aviation industry, which has priority over safety.”
Pratt & Whitney, which is owned by Raytheon, insists that the company is cooperating with federal investigators.
The company said in a statement: “United Airlines Flight 328 is currently under investigation by the NTSB. Pratt & Whitney has sent a team to work with the investigators. Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines that power the Boeing 777 aircraft.”
However, the NTSB investigated the Pratt & Whitney engine failure on the United Airlines flight to Honolulu on February 13, 2018, which prevented the company from conducting stricter inspections.
The report states: “The lack of training has led to incorrect assessment of the instructions by the inspectors, resulting in the cracked blade being put back into service and eventually breaking.”
Boeing also said that it is cooperating with the Federal Reserve. The company said in a statement: “We believe that each survey is a learning opportunity to understand how the aviation industry continues to make air travel safer for everyone.”
Faith said that the Boeing 777-200 aircraft has built-in protective devices to prevent such engine failures from crashing.
Faith said: “The FAA requires a two-engine aircraft manufacturer like this to certify it so that it can fly on one engine.”
He said that despite this, the flame went out for a long time, and this fact has raised new questions about the safety of the PW4000 engine.
He said: “If the plane stays at sea for an hour or two, the biggest concern is that the engine is equipped with a fire extinguishing system and the fire will continue to burn.”
United Airlines Flight 328 bound for Honolulu, carrying 231 people, reported trouble on Saturday shortly after taking off from Denver.
A video from a passenger showed that one of the plane’s engines was burning and scattered, and then the debris began to rain in the suburbs of Denver because the pilot “probably” reported to the control tower and started turning the jet around.
A similar situation occurred on another Boeing plane in the Netherlands on Saturday. A Boeing 747-400 cargo plane powered by a smaller PW4000 engine started to shed engine parts shortly after taking off from Maastricht Airport on Saturday.
No one was injured and the Dutch authorities are investigating the incident.