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Airlines ground some Boeing 777s and FAA steps up inspections after Denver engine failure

February 21, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Sunday it has “stepped up” inspections of Boeing 777 aircraft that contain the same engine model that failed over Denver this weekend.

Why it matters: “This will likely mean that some planes will be removed from service,” per a statement from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. United Airlines and Japanese regulators have already moved to ground some Boeing 777s with the same Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines as the Denver jet.

Driving the news: The United Flight 328 was carrying 231 people from Denver to Honolulu on Saturday when one of its engines failed, causing debris to scatter across Colorado’s capital, according to the FAA.

  • The plane returned to Denver International Airport and landed safety.

For the record: Dickson said he had consulted with his team of aviation safety experts and “directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.”

  • “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.

What they’re saying: Boeing said in a statement that given the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the incident, the company “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.”

  • The company said it is “actively monitoring recent events related to the incident and it supports the decision by the FAA and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau 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,” Boeing said.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with Boeing’s comment.

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