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Carriers Ground Some Boeing 777 Jets after Engine Explosion

: Feb 23, 2021 - : 11:31 am

Dozens of Boeing 777 aircraft in the United States, South Korea and Japan have been grounded after one of the jets suffered engine failure on Saturday.

An engine attached to a United-operated 777 plane exploded, minutes after the Honolulu-bound flight took off from Denver International Airport. The flight returned to the airport safely even as the aircraft dropped engine debris along the way.

Boeing has asked carriers to stop flying 777 aircraft that are equipped with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines. United Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines use 777s that have Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that an initial probe of the Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine from the Denver flight showed that two fan blades were fractured while the other blades exhibited damage “to the tips and leading edges.” The NTSB is planning to examine the engine, airline and photos and videos taken by passengers on board the flight, along with the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said on Monday that, according to a preliminary assessment, the damage to the fan blade is consistent with metal fatigue.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) intends to issue an emergency airthworthiness directive soon that will require stepped-up inspections of the fan blades for fatigue.

United has decided not to fly 24 Boeing 777 planes “out of an abundance of caution.” Meanwhile, Japan’s transportation ministry has ordered the grounding of All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines aircraft using that series of engines. Nineteen  Boeing 777s at All Nippon Airways and 13 at Japan Airlines have Prat & Whitney 4000 engines.

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has stopped using nine of the 777 planes that have the engine in question. Korean Air, which has six 777 aircraft with the engine,  has also grounded all of them.


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