Japan requests airlines avoid Boeing 777 with certain engines as US aviation authority issues new directive

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TOKYO: Japan has requested that airlines avoid using Boeing 777 planes with Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines for take-offs, landings and overflights in its territory until further notice, the Japan Aeronautical Information Service Center said.

The notice to airmen, issued on Sunday (Feb 21) evening, came after a United Airlines 777 landed safely at Denver International Airport on Saturday after its right engine failed.

The 26-year-old United 777 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. There were no reports of injuries in the plane or on the ground.

FILE PHOTO:  United Airlines flight UA328 returns to Denver International Airport with its starboar

United Airlines flight UA328 returns to Denver International Airport with its starboard engine on fire after it called a mayday alert on Feb 20, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Hayden Smith, @speedbird5280, handout)

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meanwhile, said that it is issuing an emergency airworthiness directive following the incident, requiring immediate or stepped-up inspections of similar planes.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement late on Sunday that the directive covers Boeing 777 aircraft equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and it “will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service”.

Dickson said the initial review of Saturday’s engine failure shows “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”.

United is the only American operator with the PW4000 engine type in its fleet, and the airline has said that it will ground its fleet of affected aircraft.

READ: Debris falls from United Airlines plane during emergency landing near US city

Debris from the United Airlines plane fell onto Denver suburbs during the emergency landing, with pieces of the engine casing raining down on a neighbourhood where they narrowly missed a home.

The FAA said in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 returned to Denver International Airport after experiencing a right-engine failure shortly after take-off. Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Honolulu when the incident occurred, the agency said.

United said in a separate statement that there were 231 passengers and 10 crew members on board. The airline released no further details.

Aviation safety experts said the plane appeared to have suffered an uncontained and catastrophic engine failure.

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