Boeing recommends grounding P&W powered 777s

February 22, 2021
Photo shows damage to the PW4000 engine in 2018 in the near identical incident to Denver on Saturday. Credit ATSB

Boeing has recommended the grounding of all P&W powered 777s which number 128, of which 69 are in service and 59 in storage after the engine explosion on a United Airlines 777 on Saturday.

The worldwide fleet of 777s numbers 1,656, the majority of which are powered by General Electric engines.

There have now been three serious incidents involving the P&W-powered Boeing 777, one involving United Airlines in 2018 and the other Japan Air Lines in December.

In a statement Boeing 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.”

It adds: “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 action while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.”

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson has also issued a statement as follows;

“After consulting with my team of aviation safety experts about yesterday’s engine failure aboard a Boeing 777 airplane in Denver, I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service.”

“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident. Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.”

“The FAA is working closely with other civil aviation authorities to make this information available to affected operators in their jurisdictions. The FAA’s aviation safety experts are meeting into the evening with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to finalize the details of the Airworthiness Directive and any accompanying service bulletins to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included in the order. Exact details of the inspection will be specified in the emergency order.”

Picture of the P&W 4000 engine involved in the 2018 incident. Fan Blade 11 is missing and Fan Blade 10 is sheared off. Credit NTSB