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Boeing 777 engine failure: what we know about United flight that suffered engine damage near Denver

Investigators say the Pratt & Whitney engine broke minutes after United Airlines Flight 328 from Colorado to Hawaii, leaving a mile of debris in its wake. After the incident, United grounded all of its Boeing 777s powered by PW4000 series engines.
A preliminary investigation says the damage was “consistent with metal fatigue,” according to information from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has prompted federal regulators to reconsider engine inspections.

“Pratt & Whitney is actively coordinating with operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval for the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines that power the Boeing 777s,” the company said. “Any further investigative updates regarding this event will be at the discretion of the NTSB. Pratt & Whitney will continue to work to ensure the safe operation of the fleet.”

What happened during the flight

“United 328 Heavy – Mayday Mayday … Depart Denver. United 328 Heavy Mayday. The plane just suffered an engine failure – you must turn immediately,” sounded the aircraft’s air traffic beep on Saturday.

The PW4000 engine has 22 blades, investigators said, one of which was found lodged inside the jet engine’s containment ring. Another was found on a football field in Broomfield, Colorado.

One of the plane’s right engine blades came loose at the hub, likely hitting another that was broken at mid-range, investigators said Monday. The first shows damage “consistent with metal fatigue,” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt.

The flight fuselage had also damaged a non-critical composite part designed to make the aircraft more aerodynamic, Sumwalt said.

On the plane, passengers saw the engine completely stripped of its outer casing, according to video from passenger Travis Loock.

The mood was tense, Loock told CNN, but everyone was “very calm” on board as the pilot announced they would land in four minutes.

“My daughter was sitting on the window and… I was like, ‘Don’t look, let’s close it and just pray,'” said passenger Brenda Dohn.

The damage track

None of the passengers were injured. The residents around Broomfield were also not debris falling for a mile.

“We dispatched police and within minutes we were actually at the scene of some of these houses, and we saw some of this big debris,” Broomfield Police spokeswoman Rachel Welte said on Saturday. .

Boeing 777 engine failure: what we know about United flight that suffered engine damage near Denver

Looking at the debris field and how busy the area was, Welte said: “The fact that we are still not receiving injury reports is absolutely shocking at this point.”

“This park, on a day like today, when it’s not as cold as last weekend, we could have hundreds of people here.”

The cab of Broomfield resident Kirby Klements’ truck was a stark reminder that damage had been done: An engine hood landed and collapsed in the cabin, according to CNN affiliate KCNC.

“I’m sitting here looking at that piece of junk sitting in my driveway thinking, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do now?’” Klements said of the vehicle he was in. put so much time and money.

Kieran Cain was playing basketball with his kids on Saturday afternoon at an elementary school in greater Denver when he heard what sounded like a booming sound and looked up.

“We could see there was a giant black cloud of smoke high in the sky, immediately followed by, you know what pieces of the plane looked like,” Cain told CNN. “Basically a rain of things falling from the sky.”

It may be some time before community members receive payment from United Airlines, but most standard insurance plans should cover “objects falling from the sky,” said Carole Walker of Rocky Mountain. Insurance Information Association at KCNC.

Boeing 777 engine failure: what we know about United flight that suffered engine damage near Denver

Where is the investigation going

The engine in question will be removed from the aircraft for further inspection, Sumwalt said.

A section of a blade will be examined Tuesday after being flown in a private jet Monday night to a Pratt & Whitney lab, where investigators believe they can determine how long the blade was damaged before failing.

Boeing 777 engine failure: what we know about United flight that suffered engine damage near Denver
The NTSB arrived in Colorado on Saturday and began removing pieces of debris from a shed for further examination, a Broomfield Police Department tweet mentionned. Washington, DC agency investigators have started a cockpit voice analysis and flight data recorders and have yet to inspect United Airlines’ maintenance records.

Following the engine failure, Boeing recommended suspending use of the 777s equipped with a Pratt & Whitney 4000 engine, and United Airlines has already withdrawn them following the incident. The FAA also issued an emergency order earlier on Sunday, saying it would step up inspections of Boeing 777 planes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

Gregory Wallace, Pete Muntean, Hollie Silverman, Alta Spells, David Williams, Konstantin Toropin, Chuck Johnston, Andy Rose, Gregory Clary and Lucy Kafanov contributed to this report.

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