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FAA orders United Airlines to inspect Boeing 777s after emergency

The order follows the catastrophic failure of a Boeing 777 over Denver on Saturday.

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The United Airlines plane with smoke trailing from its right side is seen heading towards Denver International Airport on Saturday (Andy Cross/The Denver Post/AP)

The United Airlines plane with smoke trailing from its right side is seen heading towards Denver International Airport on Saturday (Andy Cross/The Denver Post/AP)

The United Airlines plane with smoke trailing from its right side is seen heading towards Denver International Airport on Saturday (Andy Cross/The Denver Post/AP)

US Federal aviation regulators are ordering United Airlines to step up inspections of all Boeing 777s equipped with the type of engine that suffered a catastrophic failure over Denver on Saturday.

United has also said it is temporarily removing those aircraft from service.

The announcements came a day after United Airlines Flight 328 had to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport after its right engine blew apart just after take-off.

Pieces of the casing of the engine, a Pratt & Whitney PW4000, rained down on suburban neighbourhoods.

The plane with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board landed safely, with nobody on aboard of on the ground reported hurt, authorities said.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement that based on an initial review of safety data, inspectors “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 National Transportation Safety Board said in a separate statement that two of the engine’s fan blades were fractured and the remainder of the fan blades “exhibited damage”.

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(Broomfield Police Department via AP)

(Broomfield Police Department via AP)

AP/PA Images

(Broomfield Police Department via AP)

The NTSB did caution that it was too early to draw conclusions about how the incident happened.

Video posted on Twitter showed the engine fully engulfed in flames as the plane flew through the air. Freeze frames from different video taken by a passenger sitting slightly in front of the engine and posted on Twitter appeared to show a broken fan blade in the engine.

United is the only US airline with the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 in its fleet, the FAA said. United says it currently has 24 of the 777s in service.

United said it would work closely with the FAA and the NTSB “to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service”.

PA


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