Federal aviation officials ordered “stepped up” inspections of some Boeing 777s on Sunday after an engine failure on a United flight out of Denver caught fire and collapsed, scattering debris throughout a neighborhood in the Colorado before landing safely.
The inspections would apply to the 777s equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, said Steve Dickson, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Dickson said he made the decision – which will likely take some aircraft out of service – after consulting with a team of aviation safety experts.
“Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be increased for the hollow fan blades which are unique to this engine model, used only on Boeing 777 aircraft,” he said. declared.
United also said on Sunday it was immediately halting its fleet of 24 Boeings powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. The airline said it was working with federal investigators and regulators and expected a small number of customers to be inconvenienced during the exchange.
Federal officials have said that only the United States, South Korea and Japan use planes equipped with the PW4000 engine, and United is the only American airline using them.
Reuters, citing Japan’s Aviation Services Information Center, said the country has also blocked planes from flying with the Pratt & Whitney engine.
Neither Boeing nor Pratt & Whitney immediately responded to a request for comment.
Video of a passenger on United Flight 328 – which was carrying 231 people to Honolulu on Saturday – showed one of the plane’s burning engines collapsing into the sky. A pilot on the flight reported a “mayday” and told air traffic control the plane had an “engine failure,” authorities said.
Authorities in Broomfield, Colo., Said large metal debris fell on a neighborhood, although no injuries were reported.