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Regulator Orders Deeper Testing After Boeing Engine Scare

File: Boeing stated February 22, 2021 that 128 of it 777 planes with Pratt & Whitney engines will cease flying after the hearth Saturday that compelled the United Airlines airplane to make an emergency touchdown.


US aviation regulators on Tuesday ordered inspections of all Pratt & Whitney engines much like the one which broke up on a Boeing 777 passenger airplane over Denver on the weekend, directing the checks be carried out earlier than any return to service.

The spectacular accident, wherein an engine burst into flames and scattered particles over a Denver suburb shortly after takeoff for Honolulu, led to scores of Boeing 777s being grounded worldwide. No one was injured.

“US operators of airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines (must) inspect these engines before further flight,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated.

The engine maker stated it will comply, analyzing 125 planes with blades comparable to people who failed on the Boeing 777, utilizing Thermal Acoustic Imaging (TAI) inspection “to confirm airworthiness.”

“Pratt & Whitney is coordinating all actions with Boeing, airline operators and regulators. The safe operation of the fleet is our top priority,” the corporate stated in an announcement.

The regulator stated it was issuing the order “as a result of a fan-blade failure that occurred Saturday on a Boeing 777-200 that had just departed from Denver International Airport.”

The FAA defined in an announcement that “TAI technology can detect cracks on the interior surfaces of the hollow fan blades, or in areas that cannot be seen during a visual inspection.”

Metal fatigue has emerged because the chief suspect within the engine failure.

FAA chief Steve Dickson stated Tuesday it was “fortunate there were no fatalities or injuries.”

The near-miss over Denver was a contemporary setback for Boeing, which solely just lately resumed deliveries of the long-grounded 737 MAX following two deadly crashes.

It additionally raises contemporary questions concerning the FAA, which was roundly attacked for its oversight of Boeing within the certification of the MAX jets, and about whether or not upkeep was enough on the airplane, aviation specialists stated.

Even earlier than the Denver incident, US air security regulators had been weighing stricter inspections on the jets and their Pratt & Whitney engines, US officers stated Tuesday.

The FAA reviewed inspection information and upkeep historical past after a Japan Airlines fan blade incident on December 4 final yr “to determine the cause of the fracture and was evaluating whether to adjust blade inspections,” an FAA spokesman stated Tuesday. The flight landed in Japan with out accidents.

Following a February 2018 incident on one other United jet, the FAA reviewed 9,000 fan blade inspection reviews and issued an airworthiness directive setting new guidelines on inspections.

– Metal fatigue –

In a briefing Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated it was too quickly to know if the difficulty in Denver was much like these within the Japan Airlines flight, or the February 2018 incident, which concerned one other Boeing 777 and a Pratt & Whitney engine.

“A preliminary on-scene exam indicates damage consistent with metal fatigue,” NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt informed the briefing.

He stated two fan blades fractured on the quantity two engine on the Boeing 777-200 on Saturday. One of them was later discovered on a soccer discipline, whereas the opposite remained lodged within the engine.

The NTSB additionally plans to have a look at the inspection document on the United airplane to see “who knew what when, what could have been done and what should have been done,” Sumwalt stated.

“Fatigue means that you can have a crack in the material and when you load it again and again, the crack slowly grows,” stated Robert Kielb, a professor at Duke University’s college of engineering.

“This is an example of an event where we learn something about the design 20 years after it goes into service, and then we immediately ground the fleet, figure out what’s going on and fix it.”

– Headache for Boeing –

In the wake of the Denver incident, Boeing stated all 128 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines have been grounded.

Besides United, which eliminated 24 planes from service, affected airways included Japanese carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon, and South Korea’s Asiana and Korean Air.

On Monday night time, a Delta Air Lines flight on a Boeing 757 en path to Seattle from Atlanta was diverted to Salt Lake City “out of an abundance of caution following an indicator warning of a possible problem with one of its engines,” a Delta spokesman stated.

“The flight landed safely without incident and taxied to the gate without assistance.”

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