Boeing engine failure: Engine debris rained over a mile across a Denver suburb. Now Boeing recommends suspending its 777s with that engine


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“We could see there was a giant black cloud of smoke high up in the sky, immediately followed by, you know what looked like pieces of the aircraft,” Cain told CNN. “Basically a shower of things that were falling out of the sky.”

About 10,000 feet above, Travis Loock heard the same boom, but coming from the plane he was in — United Flight 328. Just minutes after taking off for Honolulu, the engine failed. As the plane returned to Denver International Airport, it dropped more engine debris through the roofs of homes and into yards.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Sunday an initial examination of the Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine from United Airlines Flight 328 showed that two fan blades were fractured and the remaining blades exhibited damage “to the tips and leading edges.”

These are preliminary findings and should not be taken as conclusive of what went wrong Saturday, but they are still significant.

Boeing has recommended suspending the use of 777s that have a Pratt & Whitney 4000 engine, and United Airlines has already pulled them following the incident. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NTSB are investigating.
A still image taken from passenger video shows the engine.

Loock shared videos that showed the engine completely stripped of its outer casing.

“A lot of people couldn’t see the engine on that side,” Loock told CNN. “I was a little more freaked out because I could see it, and I knew that was not right,” he said.

“We were just glad we weren’t over the ocean, because that’s where we were heading.”

Boeing recommends suspending use of planes with Pratt & Whitney 4000 engine

The NTSB arrived in Colorado Saturday and began removing pieces of debris to a hangar for further examination, a tweet from the Broomfield Police Department said.
In a statement issued Sunday, Boeing recommended suspending operations of Boeing 777s that use the same engine as the Denver flight — a Pratt & Whitney 4000.

“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 said.

Large debris from the failed engine fell across a mile long swath of Broomfield.

The FAA issued an emergency order earlier Sunday saying it would be stepping up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

United Airlines announced Sunday that it was removing all of its Boeing 777 planes in service that use the same engine. Japan’s transportation ministry said it has ordered the country’s domestic airlines to halt operations of Boeing 777 aircraft equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

Cargo plane's engine catches fire, dropping debris that injures two people in a Dutch town

Pratt & Whitney issued a statement saying they have dispatched a team to work with investigators on the incident.

“Pratt & Whitney is actively coordinating with operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval of the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines that power Boeing 777 aircraft,” the statement from the company said. “Any further investigative updates regarding this event will be at the discretion of the NTSB. Pratt & Whitney will continue to work to ensure the safe operation of the fleet.”

Fear in the air

Loock, who was on his way back to the airport, said the mood in the plane was tense. The pilot came on and said they would land in four minutes.

He said you could sense the fear on the plane, but everyone was “very calm.”

Passenger Brenda Dohn said she and her daughter, like other passengers, took the time to pray.

A video taken inside the plane by a passenger shows flames coming from the engine.

“My daughter was sitting on the window and … I was just like, ‘don’t look like let’s let’s close it up and let’s just pray.'”

Air traffic audio from the plane conveyed the sense of urgency but not panic.

“United 328 Heavy — Mayday Mayday … Denver departure. United 328 Heavy Mayday. Aircraft just experienced engine failure — need to turn immediately.”

The debris from the failed engine rained down across a mile through a soccer field and nearby neighborhoods, Broomfield Police spokesperson Rachel Welte told reporters during a press briefing Saturday.

“We dispatched police officers and within minutes we actually were on scene of some of these homes, and we actually saw some of these large pieces of debris,” Welte said.

Looking at the debris field and how busy the area was, Welte said, “the fact that we are still not getting reports of any injuries is absolutely shocking at this point.”

“This park on a day like today, when it’s not as cold as it was last weekend, we could have hundreds of people here.”

CNN’s Pete Muntean, Alta Spells, David Williams, Konstantin Toropin, Chuck Johnston, Andy Rose and Lucy Kafanov contributed to this report.



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