2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Continental Divide is seen in the background of Denver International Airport outside Denver 2/2
By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A United Airlines flight landed safely at Denver International Airport on Saturday after its right engine failed, the Federal Aviation Administration said, with dramatic images showing debris from the plane strewn across soil. The Boeing (NYSE 🙂 777-200 jet, with 231 passengers and 10 crew members on board, was heading to Honolulu when it suffered an engine failure shortly after takeoff, the airline said. There were no reports of injuries, either on the plane or on the ground. Images released by police in Broomfield, Colorado, showed significant aircraft debris on the ground, including an engine cover scattered outside a home and what appeared to be other parts in a field. Police tape was used to cordon off the debris. Video taken of what appeared to be inside the United plane showed a burning engine. Another video on social media showed a cloud of black smoke left by an airplane. “Something exploded,” a man can be heard in the video saying. In an audio recording, a United pilot could be heard making an emergency call to air traffic control. “Mayday, the aircraft just experienced an engine failure, it needs to turn immediately,” according to audio from monitoring website liveatc.net, which was reviewed by Reuters. The FAA said so and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate. The NTSB said it had opened an investigation. “If you find debris, PLEASE do not touch or move it. @NTSB wants all debris to remain in place for investigation,” the Broomfield Police Department said on Twitter. The 26-year-old 777 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. Investigators will focus on the cause of the accident and see if a fan blade failed. Boeing said its technical advisers would assist the NTSB with its investigation, while United promised to “work with federal agencies to investigate this incident.” United said most of the passengers on Flight 328 took off on a new flight to Honululu on Saturday night. Engine failures are rare, but are potentially dangerous when rotating parts pierce the outer casing, an event known as irrepressible engine failure. In February 2018, an older United-operated Boeing 777 bound for Honolulu suffered an engine failure when a hood fell off about 30 minutes before the plane landed safely. The NTSB determined that the incident was the result of a full-length fan blade fracture. Due to the United fan blade separation incident, Pratt & Whitney, which is Raytheon’s (NYSE 🙂 unit, reviewed inspection records for all previously inspected PW4000 fan blades, the NTSB said. The FAA in March 2019 issued a directive requiring initial and periodic inspections of the fan blades on PW4000 engines.