FAA mandates safety measures for Boeing following reports of defective parts

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is moving forward with new regulations aimed at preventing certain Boeing 777 engines from failing and catching fire in flight.

The administration said Wednesday it issued new inspection and modification requirements that will allow Boeing 777-200s and -300s equipped with select Pratt and Whitney engines to return to service. The new regulations follow previous reports of mechanical failures, particularly last month when a Boeing 777 flying out of Denver, Colorado caught fire in mid-flight and had to make an emergency landing.

The new regulations require covered aircraft to have reinforced engine cowlings. They also mandate more detailed inspections of engine fan blades, hydraulics
pump shut-off valves, as well as other systems and components.

The FAA has issued new regulations designed to prevent certain Boeing 777 engines from malfunctioning and catching fire. Above, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312ER sits at Los Angeles International Airport on February 28, 2022.
DANIEL SLIM/Getty Images

According to the regulations, fan blade failures can be catastrophic and include “an uncontrolled engine fire”.

“This condition, if left untreated, could result in in-flight engine shutdown,” the warrants state.

In addition, the rules specify the corrective actions that must be taken in response to the inspection results. The regulations are estimated to cost US operators $22.6 million.

The FAA said in a statement that next steps would involve Boeing developing service bulletins that will outline what airlines must do to comply with the new regulations. While the administration says the regulations will affect 108 U.S.-registered planes and 256 worldwide, United Airlines is the only carrier affected. The administration did not specify the number of planes the carrier has.

The warrants were developed in response to an incident last month where large fragments of a United Airlines Boeing 777 fell in the Denver neighborhood on Feb. 19 after taking off for Honolulu, Hawaii. The flight with 231 passengers and 10 crew members landed safely.

The problem was caused by a failure of the plane’s right engine, according to the FAA. Passengers posted harrowing videos online showing the engine catching fire in mid-flight. Police in Broomfield, Colorado said debris from the robbery littered neighborhoods but caused no injuries or deaths.

“So, I first thought it was debris from a trampoline from my neighbor’s yard,” said Broomfield resident Kirby Klements. Denver Post at the time. “I got out, looked at it and immediately knew it was the front end of an airplane engine.”

Earlier, another United Airlines flight encountered a mechanical problem in flight, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Newsweek has contacted Boeing and United Airlines for comment.


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