By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Boeing said it “supports the decision” of regulators to suspend operations of more than a hundred of its 777 planes powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines in the wake of a jet engine failure in Colorado this past Saturday.
The jet’s engine in United Airlines Flight 328 from Denver, Colorado, to Honolulu, Hawaii, failed and broke apart shortly after takeoff on Saturday, raining debris over Broomfield, Colorado. There were no reported injuries or deaths related to the incident, but residents of the area and passengers of the plane remain alarmed.
In response to the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes with the same engines as Saturday’s United Airlines flight.
“This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement announcing the directive.
Boeing said in a statement Sunday evening that it is monitoring the events related to United Airlines Flight 328 and recommends temporarily suspending use of 128 of its 777s with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines.
“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,” the company said.
“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,” the company added. “We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney.”
Japanese regulators instructed Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground all Boeing 777 planes in their fleet after Saturday’s incident. The nation’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also cited a “serious incident” that occurred on a Japan Airlines flight on Dec. 4, where the same type of engine was damaged as in Saturday’s United Airlines incident.
Saturday’s episode is the latest in a series of troubles to hit Boeing.
The embattled airplane manufacturer was forced to temporarily ground its separate fleet of 737 MAXs after two fatal crashes killed a total of 346 people in late 2018 and early 2019.
In late December, the first Boeing 737 MAX with paying passengers took off in the U.S. again — the first time in nearly two years after the groundings.
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