BOEING HAS advised airlines to ground all 777-model aircraft with the same engine as one that caught fire and scattered debris over Denver on Saturday.
In total, Boeing said 128 jets should be suspended until further investigation can establish the cause of the mid-flight malfunction.
Frightening footage was captured by worried passengers travelling from Denver to Honolulu when, shortly after take-off, the engine failed, burst into flames, and began to fall apart.
Engine failure on Boeing 777 United aircraft. Plane took off from Denver and returned safely in 20 minutes. Engine parts fell soon after take off. Pilots flew the aircraft back safely. Look at the engine, it's hardly in shape. pic.twitter.com/gByQ9Sj85q
— Nagarjun Dwarakanath (@nagarjund) February 21, 2021
There were 231 passengers and 10 crew on board Saturday’s flight, where pilots had to issue a mayday call and return to Denver.
To the astonishment of local police, no one was killed or injured on the ground after large chunks of debris landed near roads, houses, and in public parks.
United Airlines and Japan's two largest commercial airlines have already grounded 56 planes with that type of engine in response to the news.
— Claire Armstrong (@BAREESTHETICSCO) February 20, 2021
"While [an] investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines," Boeing said in a statement reported by the BBC.
Pratt & Whitney has confirmed it is working with investigators.
Thankfully, uncontained engine failures of this kind, where debris falls from the plane to the ground, are very rare. This will make the incident that occurred on Saturday’s flight all the more damaging for Boeing’s reputation as a high calibre plane manufacturer, though.
Had the engine debris damaged other parts of the plane, such as the cabin, the incident could have been fatal to all passengers on board.
Another cause for concern for Boeing is there appears to be numerous similarities with the engine failure that occurred on a United Airlines flight in 2018.
Should the two incidents have the same cause, it would raise serious questions about why manufacturers and regulators were unable to address the issue.
The engine failure marks another setback for the plane manufacturer, as Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft was also grounded for 18 months following two aircraft accidents that left 346 people dead.
Boeing also called for the grounding of their 737-model after an airplane crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March 2019 killing, among others, Irish father-of-two Micheál Ryan.
Subsequent investigations into the cause of the crash cited technical faults