The Boeing Company has recommended suspending operations of the 69 777 model aircraft in service and 59 in storage, all of which are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, following an incident on Saturday involving one of them in mid-flight.
“Boeing is actively inspecting the incident involving United Airlines Flight 328. While the (authorities’) investigation is ongoing, we recommend suspending operations of all 69 in-service 777s and 59 in storage with ‘Pratt & Whitney 4000-112’ engines until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.”
“Boeing supports Sunday’s decision by Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau and Monday’s move by the FAA to suspend operations of 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines,” the airline said.
The decision follows an incident last Saturday involving one of these United Airlines planes, which left Denver, Colorado, for Honolulu, Hawaii.
The aircraft had to make an emergency return after suffering problems with an engine, which burst into flames and parts of which fell on a suburb of the capital of the state of Colorado, authorities said.
The plane, a Boeing 777-200, returned to Denver International Airport and landed “safely after experiencing a right engine failure shortly after takeoff,” the AFA said in a statement.
“We are voluntarily and temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our program,” American Airlines said on its Twitter account.
The company says it will continue to “work closely with regulators to determine any additional steps and we expect that only a small number of customers will be inconvenienced.”
“Safety remains our top priority, which is why our teams are participating in extensive training to prepare for and manage incidents such as (Denver flight) UA328,” the airline concludes.
According to U.S. local media, based on the most recent aircraft registration data, the only airlines operating with the affected engines are in the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Following Boeing’s recommendation, the Government of Japan has already ordered the suspension of flights of some 30 Boeing 777 aircraft.
The decision affects 13 aircraft operated by the Japanese airline JAL and 19 others operated by ANA, which will have to remain grounded until further notice, a spokesman for the Japanese Ministry of Transport confirmed on Monday.
The Japanese authorities have not detected any problems with the planes for the moment and are awaiting further information from the U.S. aviation regulator on the causes of Saturday’s incident, according to the same source.