FAA Orders Inspections Of Boeing 777 Engines As Metal Fatigue Concerns Mount
Metal fatigue in the jet engine fan blades played an essential role in the Boeing 777-200’s engine explosion over Denver Saturday, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt. Now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is ordering immediate inspections of Boeing 777 planes with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines before further flights, according to Reuters.
In a virtual news conference on Monday night, Sumwalt told reporters that United Flight 328 experienced engine issues that resulted in pieces of the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine raining down on Denver suburbs.
Sumwalt said passengers heard a loud bang, and the 777 started vibrating after takeoff from Denver International Airport. The incident occurred minutes into the flight at an altitude of about 12,000 feet.
A preliminary examination of the engine blade fragments suggests a crack expanded over time prompted the failure, he said.
FAA records show the Boeing 777-200 was more than two decades old. Sumwalt said investigators would try to determine how long the blades had suffered fatigue.
“Our mission is to understand not only what happened but why it happened so that we can keep it from happening again,” he added.
Photos, presumably taken by the FAA and NTSB officials, show engine fragments struck the plane’s belly. Sumwalt said the plane’s underbody was damaged but did not cause structural harm.
The Denver incident followed a similar engine failure on Dec. 4 when a Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. 777-200 had taken off from Okinawa on a flight to Tokyo.
Scott Hamilton of aviation news site Leeham News suggested to CBS News that a “common theme” might be developing between both of these incidents.
Boeing has since grounded 177 of the 777s using Pratt & Whitney engines worldwide.
The FAA has ordered inspections of Boeing 777 planes with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines before further flights. Out of the 1,600 777s delivered worldwide, about 10% are using the engines. Many of the planes are based in the US, South Korea, and Japan.
The FAA wants inspectors to use thermal acoustic image inspection devices to examine large titanium fan blades on each engine.
“Based on the initial results as we receive them, as well as other data gained from the ongoing investigation, the FAA may revise this directive to set a new interval for this inspection or subsequent ones,” the FAA said.
There was no timeframe on how long the inspections would take.
Another incident on Saturday involving a Boeing 747-400 freighter suffered an engine failure after taking off from Maastricht Airport, a regional airport in Beek in Limburg, Netherland. The incident’s cause has yet to be determined, but engine parts rained down on a local town very similar to the last two incidents.
Boeing can barely escape problems with its commercial jets following the 737 Max debacle.
Wed, 02/24/2021 – 11:02