As I shared on Twitter Saturday afternoon, there was an incident involving one of the Pratt & Whitney engines on a Boeing 777. It was a United flight (#238) flying from Denver to Hawaii and it caused parts of the engine housing to fall to the ground and required an emergency landing.
Dozens of Boeing 777s Grounded
The pilots did a heads-up job, maintaining a professional approach and getting the plane back on the ground. I am sure the passengers were quite nervous, especially seeing this outside of their windows.
— michaela🦋 (@michaelagiulia) February 20, 2021
The engine nacelle that fell landed in a family’s front yard but did not cause any injuries. In fact, the entire incident, finishing with the successful landing at Denver’s International Airport, was accomplished without any injuries. Again, the pilots did a great job getting all this done and a great testament to their training.
JUST IN: Denver International Airport officials tell us United Airlines Flight 328 bound for Honolulu returned to the airport after an engine problem. Neighbors heard a loud boom, took these photos of what look like Boeing 777 engine nacelle in their yards. pic.twitter.com/mklpz3VG4F
— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) February 20, 2021
The Planes That Are Being Grounded
After this event, Boeing put out a statement and the NTSB sent a team from Washington, DC to conduct an investigation into what happened.
An early statement by the NTSB said that they found that two of the Pratt&Whitney PW4000 fan blades had fractured, one near the root and an “adjacent fan blade was fractured about mid-span”.
United Airlines is the only US airline that uses the Boeing 777 airplanes that are equipped with the Pratt & Whitney engines – and this is important to note, that it is only 777s with PW engines that are being grounded pending the investigations.
Other airlines that have these planes are All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, EgyptAir, and Vietnam Airlines (thanks to Jon Ostrower for the list). These airlines include all those that have this model though some of the planes have been moved to storage due to the Covid schedule cuts.
So, what happens if you have a flight upcoming that was to be operated by one of these aircraft? The good news is that you may not even know it – unless you were counting on this particular aircraft and United has to use a different aircraft model altogether. But, the plane itself is not the problem here as the examinations will be focusing on the Pratt & Whitney engines so flying another 777 powered by one of the other manufacturer’s engines will not be a problem.
A great takeaway from this is that the pilots did a stellar job and that no one was hurt. There could have been some serious injuries on the ground but that was a blessing that the debris missed anyone on the ground!
Also, just remember that those of us who blog about travel and miles/points, etc are not aviation experts! Some bloggers like to go for the hyperbolic in situations like this and even network news shows end up having “experts” that get a lot of details wrong. Here is one of the many experts I like to follow that really tells how it is – I suggest you follow him!