The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday that one day after a dramatic engine failure over Colorado, he is calling for “immediate or intensified inspections” of all Boeing 777 aircraft with a particular Pratt & Whitney engine model.
Also on Sunday, United Airlines, the only American airline affected by the FAA regulation, announced that they are currently temporarily putting on the ground the 24 Boeing 777 aircraft currently in service in their Pratt & Whitney-powered fleet will.
The FAA’s announcement came shortly after its counterpart in Japan ordered the airlines there not to fly the aircraft, which affected 32 jets operated by All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways. Both Japanese and American orders are only for Boeing 777s with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.
“We reviewed all available security data following yesterday’s incident,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. “Based on the initial information, we came to the conclusion that the inspection interval for the hollow fan blades, which apply only to this engine model and are only used in Boeing 777 aircraft, should be extended.”
The Colorado episode that involved United Airlines Flight 328 on Saturday resulted in no reported injuries, but the plane threw debris over three neighborhoods before safely landing in Denver.
In a statement on Sunday, United said: “Safety remains our top priority – for our employees and our customers.” It went on, “This is why our pilots and flight attendants receive extensive training to prepare and manage incidents like United Flight 328. We continue to pride ourselves on their professionalism and unwavering commitment to safety in our daily operations and in emergencies that happen. “
Mr. Dickson said the FAA is working with its counterparts around the world and that its security experts meet with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing “late into the evening” to complete details of the required inspections. According to the agency, only airlines in the USA, Japan and South Korea operate Boeing 777s with the affected Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine model.
A spokesman for Japan Airways said the airline stopped using the 13 engine-equipped Boeing 777s in its fleet before the aviation authority issued its policy. Only three scheduled flights were affected. The airline announced last year that it would remove all 13 aircraft from its fleet by early next year.