Japan bans Boeing 777 with Pratt & Whitney engines after Denver scare

FAA is demanding ‘immediate or stepped-up inspections’ that could see some aircraft grounded

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 22 February 2021 00:55 GMT
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Uninvited guest: part of the engine of the United Airlines Boeing 777 that made an emergency landing at Denver
Uninvited guest: part of the engine of the United Airlines Boeing 777 that made an emergency landing at Denver (Broomfield Police Department)

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Japan’s aviation regulator has banned Boeing 777 jets if they are fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

The Monday morning announcement from the Japan Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) followed the emergency landing of a United Airlines 777 at Denver after one engine shed its housing and caught fire shortly after take-off on Saturday.

United flight 328 from the Colorado capital to Honolulu landed safely back at Denver after the right engine lost its cowling. Debris from the wide-bodied twin jet rained down on the northern suburb of Broomfield, but no one on the ground was injured. 

The 229 passengers and 10 crew on board evacuated the aircraft after landing and were taken by bus to the terminal. No one was hurt.

In December a Boeing 777 belonging to Japan Airlines made an emergency landing at Naha airport in Okinawa after shedding parts of the left-hand engine casing. The aircraft was fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines.

Japan’s move came as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for Boeing 777s fitted with PW4000 engines that have hollow fan blades. 

The FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson, said he will require “immediate or stepped-up inspections” – and that some aircraft are likely to be removed from service as a result.

After Saturday’s incident a Broomfield Police Department spokesperson said: “I’m shocked looking at this debris field.

“The fact that we are getting no reports of any injuries is shocking. It’s amazing.”

British Airways, which has a fleet of 45 Boeing 777s, does not use the Pratt & Whitney engine. Its 777s are fitted with Rolls Royce Trent 800 and General Electric 90 engines.

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