Boeing 777 planes grounded by airlines in US and Japan after engine failure
Boeing Co said it recommended suspending the use of 777 jets with the same type of engine that shed debris over Denver at the weekend after U.S. regulators announced extra inspections and Japan suspended their use while considering further action, Reuters reports.
The moves involving Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines came after a United Airlines 777 landed safely at Denver International Airport on Saturday local time after its right engine failed.
United said the next day it would voluntarily and temporarily remove its 24 active planes, hours before Boeing's announcement.
Boeing said 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The manufacturer recommended airlines suspend operations until U.S. regulators identified the appropriate inspection protocol.
The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older and less fuel efficient than newer models and most operators are phasing them out of their fleets.
Images posted by police in Broomfield, Colorado showed significant plane debris on the ground, including an engine cowling scattered outside a home and what appeared to be other parts in a field.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said its initial examination of the plane indicated most of the damage was confined to the right engine, with only minor damage to the airplane.
It said the inlet and casing separated from the engine and two fan blades were fractured, while the remainder of the fan blades exhibited damage.
Japan's transport ministry ordered Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and ANA Holdings Inc to suspend the use of 777s with P&W4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures.
The ministry said that on Dec. 4, 2020, a JAL flight from Naha Airport to Tokyo International Airport returned to the airport due to a malfunction in the left engine about 100 kilometres north of Naha Airport.
That plane was the same age as the 26-year-old United Airlines plane involved in the latest incident.