Boeing 777: planemaker calls for 128 aircraft with PW4000 engines to be grounded after Denver scare

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Insurance claim? A home in Broomfield, Colorado, with a large piece of debris from a Boeing 777 engine (Broomfield Police Department)
Insurance claim? A home in Broomfield, Colorado, with a large piece of debris from a Boeing 777 engine (Broomfield Police Department)

Boeing has recommended grounding all of its 777 aircraft with a specific type of engine as police recordings of the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s Boeing 777 scare in Denver were released.

The planemaker recommends grounding the 69 in-service aircraft with Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines. Fifty-nine additional twin-jets that are currently parked are also affected.

United Airlines flight 328 from the Colorado capital to Honolulu safely returned to Denver International Airport (DIA) after part of the right engine broke up in flight, showering debris on the northern suburb of Broomfield.

Boeing made the recommendation after Japanese safety regulators had banned 777s with the same Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines, and United said it had voluntarily grounded its fleet.

The planemaker said: “Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328.

“While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.

“Boeing supports the decision yesterday by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, and the FAA’s action today to suspend operations of 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines.

“We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.”

No one on the ground was injured by engine parts, but recordings issued overnight by Broomfield Police Department highlighted the scale of the engine failure.

One homeowner who called 911 said: “I was just outside my house. A jetliner flew right overhead. There was a small boom. Looks like some debris fell out of it.”

A woman caller says: “A piece of it just landed in front of me.

“It almost landed on my head.”

The dispatcher tells her to leave the debris on the ground. She says at one point: “Hang on one second, we’re getting blown up by 911 calls.”

“This is going to be an airliner, it looks like it exploded,” one officer says. “There are parts everywhere.”

Another says: “It’s coming from a 787 [sic]. It’s returning to DIA.”

The police department tweeted: “Given the number of people who are at Commons Park on a weekend day we are beyond grateful that no one was injured.”

Police advised “those who want to file a claim for damage from falling debris” to contact United.

The 229 passengers and 10 crew on board safely evacuated the aircraft after landing and were taken by bus to the terminal.

United said the grounding of its Boeing 777s with the same engines would cause minimal disruption.

The Independent understands that Korean Air and Asiana, based in Seoul, have grounded affected aircraft.

Most Boeing 777s in service, including the 57 flown by British Airways, are powered by Rolls Royce or General Electric engines and are unaffected by the groundings.

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