February 21, 2021 / The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered the suspension of operations of Pratt & Whitney-operated Boeing 777s following the accident involving a United Airlines (UA) aircraft on Saturday February 20, 2021.
A few minutes after take-off from Denver International airport (DEN) bound for Honolulu (HNL), flight UA 328 declared emergency after the cowling of its right wing engine ripped off completely. Parts of the engine fell on a Denver neighbourhood, luckily causing limited damage and hurting no people, while the 26-year old Boeing 777-200 executed an emergency landing at DEN 23 minutes after take-off. Nobody on the plane was injured, but the images of the ‘naked’ engine in flames made the round of the world.
FAA’s preliminary investigation identified metal fatigue as one of the possible causes of the accident, prompting inspections on all aircraft around the world powered by the same type of engine. The Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau even anticipated the US regulators, as both Japan Airlines (JL) and All Nipppon Airways (NH) have in their fleet that type of aircraft mounting that type of engine. According to Boeing, a total of 69 in-service and 59 in-storage (as effect of the Covid pandemic) 777s are involved by the suspension of operations.