United Airlines Pulls Boeing 777s After Engine Explosion

Munich International Airport Feature

United Airlines will temporarily remove certain Boeing 777 planes from service after a plane experienced a catastrophic engine failure over Denver on Saturday (February 20.)

Federal aviation regulators ordered the airline company to step up inspections of all Boeing 777 with a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine after United Airlines Flight 328, which was equipped with the engine, was forced to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport last weekend, CBS News reports.

The plane's right engine blew apart just after takeoff and pieces of the casing of the engine fell from the sky onto suburban neighborhoods nearby.

Dutch authorities are also investigating a strikingly similar, but separate incident that occurred on Saturday in which a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane dropped engine parts following a mid-air explosion and fire just after takeoff from Maastrictht Aachen Airport, Reuters reports.

The Netherlands flight resulted in some damage, which including small metal parts being scattered over the town of Meerssen and one woman was injured, but the plane made a safe landing, according to an airport spokesperson.

The flight in Denver, which included 231 passengers and 10 crew members, landed safely and no injuries were reported, authorities confirmed to CBS News.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson revealed in a statement shared on Saturday that inspectors "concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes" after an initial review of safety data.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed in a separate statement that two fan blades in the Boeing 777's engine were fractured and the remaining fan blades "exhibited damage," but acknowledged that it is too early to draw conclusions about what led to the engine failure.

Boeing said it recommended "operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s" with the Pratt & Whitney engines worldwide be suspended "until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol," according to CBS News.

Pratt & Whitney also issued a statement about the engine failure on Saturday, claiming it "has dispatched a team to work with investigators" and is "actively coordinating with operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval" of the engines involved.

Photo: Getty Images

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