Reactor of a Boeing 777 on fire over Denver: planes equipped with the offending engine immobilized
MIRACLE – A United Airlines Boeing 777-220 from Denver to Honolulu had to make an emergency landing on Saturday after its right engine burned. Much debris from the aircraft fell on the city. There are no injuries.
The passengers of flight UA328 had the fear of their lives. The inhabitants of Denver, them, witnessed dumbfounded a rain of debris in their streets. A United Airlines Boeing 777-220 made an emergency landing on Saturday due to a burning engine. The aircraft, to link the city of Denver to that of Honolulu and carrying 231 passengers and 10 crew members, managed to land after losing a lot of debris. No injuries – in the aircraft or on the ground – are to be deplored. A miracle.
In a recording obtained from the LiveATC site, the pilot of the aircraft can be heard initiating a distress call and requesting an emergency clearance to return to Denver. “We had a reactor failure, we must turn around. Mayday (help, editor’s note),” he says. A local resident was able to capture the scene, which he shared on Twitter. “I saw an explosion on this low flying plane @broomfield about 45 minutes ago. Debris fell from the plane and left a black cloud of smoke. The plane continued,” he describes .
I saw an explosion on this low flying aircraft over @broomfield about 45 minutes ago. Debris fell from the plane and left a black cloud of smoke. The plane continued on. Any new on if this plane landed safely? @BroomfieldPD @NMFirePIO @9NEWS @KyleClark pic.twitter.com/paMCdiuWMN
— Tyler Thal (@tgthal) February 20, 2021
Safe and sound, the 200 or so passengers were still taken care of by rescue teams. “The majority of the customers who were on flight UA328 are currently en route to Honolulu on another flight,” United Airlines said in a statement, adding that passengers not wishing to travel immediately after the incident had been accommodated at the hotel.
The incident caused a great deal of debris to fall, which residents of Broomfield, a suburb of Denver, were able to witness. “I heard that big noise, I thought it was a military device When I got out, you could see that the engine was on fire,” said one of them, while another told The Denver Post: “Honestly, … I thought we were bombed.” On their Twitter account, Broomfield police shared snapshots taken by residents of the debris of the device and located on a sports field or in a park. “Additional debris strewn across the grounds of the Commons Park. Please avoid the area if possible,” authorities asked. But also not to touch the debris nor to move them “for the needs of the investigation”.
For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was “aware of the reports of debris fallen along the route taken by the plane” and announced that it had opened an investigation to determine the causes of the reactor fire.
Additional debris scattered across turf field at Commons Park. Please avoid the area if possible. pic.twitter.com/tmos5HBVwV
— Broomfield Police (@BroomfieldPD) February 20, 2021
Boeing, which had “recommended” Sunday evening the suspension of flights on this type of aircraft, finally decided on Monday to immobilize all Boeing 777s equipped with the engine in question.
Boeing 777s immobilized after engine crash in the United States
Part of the fleet of Boeing 777 planes, those equipped with the engine model involved in a spectacular incident on a United Airlines flight in the United States on Saturday, is now grounded around the world.
The American aircraft manufacturer had “recommended” Sunday evening the suspension of flights of the 128 aircraft concerned and a spokeswoman confirmed Monday to AFP that they were all immobilized.
The Federal Aviation Regulatory Authority (FAA) has ordered additional inspections on these Boeing 777s powered by Pratt & Withney while the United States National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the incident.
These regulatory agencies, like Boeing, told AFP that they will provide more information when they analyze the data from the abruptly interrupted flight in more detail.
The United Kingdom for its part decided on Monday to ban its airspace to the Boeing 777s concerned, while the Japanese Ministry of Transport said it had ordered more stringent inspections of the Pratt & Withney engine after a JAL 777 , flying from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Naha, on the island of Okinawa, experienced problems with “a related engine” in December.
According to the Egyptian daily Al Ahram, the public company Egyptair will also immobilize 4 of its Boeing 777-200 even if the latter are not equipped with the same type of Pratt & Withney engines involved in the United incident.
A Boeing 777-220 of this company, which had taken off Saturday from Denver (Colorado) for Honolulu (Hawaii) with 231 passengers and 10 crew members, suffered a spectacular failure. As the right engine caught fire, the pilots had to make an emergency U-turn.
As the plane returned to the airport, a shower of debris, some large, fell in a residential area in Broomfield, a suburb of Denver. No one was injured on the ground, according to local authorities.
The aircraft was able to land safely at Denver airport.
– New setback –
Of the 128 grounded planes, 69 were in service: 24 at United Airlines, 13 at Japan Airlines (JAL), 19 at All Nippon Airways (ANA), 7 at Asiana and 6 at Korean Air. 59 aircraft were stored separately, the need for planes that can carry many passengers having melted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
If the incident was not injured, it represents a new setback for Boeing, whose title lost more than 2% Monday on the stock market.
In the immediate future, we will have to “sift through the engines that are in service to see if there are any cracks, and understand what happened”, explained Michel Merluzeau, expert from the AIR firm. .
“We have to determine if this is a metallurgical, maintenance, manufacturing or operational problem, it will take some time,” he added.
Above all, the incident comes as Boeing is barely recovering from the crisis of the 737 MAX, the flagship aircraft of the manufacturer which was grounded in May 2019 after two close-knit accidents that killed 346.
After nearly two years of a ban, a modification of the flight control software and the implementation of new pilot training protocols, the 737 MAX was recently cleared again for flight.
Boeing is also, like its rival Airbus, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its catastrophic consequences on international air transport. This health crisis led to the cancellation of orders for hundreds of devices.
The Dutch authorities also announced Monday the opening of two investigations after the fall two days earlier of debris from a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane, which injured two people in the south of the Netherlands.
The 777 incident is more of a maintenance or engine problem than the design itself, say several experts. In service for over 25 years without a major accident, the aircraft “has a very solid reputation,” said Michel Merluzeau.