United Airlines Flight 328 is approaching Denver International Airport after an “engine failure” occurred shortly after taking off from Denver. The FAA issued an order on Tuesday to ground all aircraft powered by the same Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engine pending inspection. Hayden Smith / AP hide caption
Hayden Smith / AP
Hayden Smith / AP
The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered emergency inspections of powered Boeing 777 aircraft that exploded in a United Airlines jet last weekend.
The Emergency Airworthiness Policy US airlines that operate aircraft powered by the same Pratt & Whitney PW 4000 engines prohibit further flights until the controls are completed.
The policy goes into effect immediately and comes just days after United Airlines Flight 328 was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Denver International Airport when one of its engines burned due to a fan blade failure. Debris flew from the engine, causing an explosion and fire, and a large cut near the right wing.
Although the plane landed safely and no one was injured, heavy chunks of machinery rained on the residential areas below.
United immediately grounded all 777 aircraft pending an ongoing investigation.
“After reviewing the available data and considering other safety factors, the FAA determined that operators must perform a thermal acoustic image inspection of the large titanium fan blades on the front of each engine,” FAA officials said in a statement.
A TAI can detect cracks inside the fan blades or in areas that are not visible with a visual inspection.
The FAA will review the results of the inspections and provide additional guidance based on the data.
These engine types were previously examined every 6,500 flight cycles, which are defined as one take-off and one landing.
In a statement, a Boeing spokesman said the company “supports the FAA’s guidelines on inspection requirements” and will “work with our customers throughout the process.”
United Airlines is the only US airline to fly the Boeing 777 powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW4000-112 engine. It operates 52 such aircraft.
According to Boeing, a total of 128 are now in use worldwide.
The FAA’s order only applies to U.S. airlines, although international aviation regulators usually issue the same safety mandate.