United Airlines on Sunday announced it is grounding all 52 of the Boeing 777 airplanes powered by Pratt & Whitney Series 4000 engines in its fleet, a day after one of its planes suffered a right engine failure and had to make an emergency landing.
United Flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu turned around and safely landed at Denver International Airport with no injuries. But not before dramatic social media pictures and video chronicled the harrowing sequence of an engine on fire and debris falling from the sky onto a suburban Denver.
United, which is the only airline to use the Pratt & Whitney 4000 engine, has 52 Boeing 777s in its fleet – 24 active, and 28 in storage.
In fact, numerous stakeholders – perhaps stung by the nearly two-year-long grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX following two crashes just months apart – quickly jumped into action. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, which use the same engines, grounded their fleets of Boeing 777s.
Boeing itself released a statement saying it is recommending an operational suspension of the 777s powered by the Pratt & Whitney 4000 engine.
BREAKING: Boeing recommends an operational suspension of PW4000-powered 777s (aka grounding) “until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.” Says 69 are currently in service and 59 are in storage. pic.twitter.com/xpGcjBStXi
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) February 22, 2021
And the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Sunday it is issuing an emergency airworthiness directive requiring immediate or stepped-up inspections of similar planes.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement late Sunday the directive covers Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and it “will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.