After two of its planes crashed on Saturday (20) and dumped debris over residential areas in the United States and the Netherlands, Boeing on Monday (22) called on airlines to suspend the use of 777 models with the same engine type.
According to a company statement, the decision relates to Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. According to company data, 69 planes with this engine model are in service and 59 more are currently shut down, due to the drop in demand for flights associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
The automaker has recommended airlines suspend operation with the Boeing-777s until U.S. regulatory agencies identify the appropriate inspection protocol so that flights can safely resume.
The affected 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft are older and less economical than newer models and are currently operated by only five airlines: United Airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL), ANA Holdings, Asiana Airlines, and Korean Air Lines. Most companies eliminate them from their fleet.
The Japanese Ministry of Transport has strengthened the position of the FAA (regulator of the airline industry in the United States) and ordered JAL, which operates 19 Boeing-777s, and ANA Holdings, with 13, to suspend use from the plane.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said an initial inspection of the problematic 26-year-old plane in Denver indicated most of the damage was limited to the right engine, with only minor damage to the plane.
The agency added that the intake and housing separated from the engine and two fan blades were broken, while other blades were also damaged.
Pratt & Whitney said it was in contact with operators and regulators to coordinate an effort to inspect and overhaul their engines.
How did the incidents go?
In Denver, Colorado, a plane crashed into the right wing and dropped debris, but made an emergency landing safely shortly after takeoff on Saturday (20).
United Airlines Flight 328 was destined for Honolulu, Hawaii. None of the 231 passengers and 10 crew members were injured.
Broomfield, Colo., Police posted photos of the Boeing 777-200 plane wreckage on social media. There were no injuries on the ground.
“If you find any debris, PLEASE do not touch or move it. @NTSB wants all of the wreckage to remain in place for investigation, ”police said in a message on Twitter.
Images posted on social media allegedly taken by passengers on the flight show an aircraft engine on fire. It was not possible to independently confirm whether the images refer to the United flight.
This Sunday (21), United Airlines announced that it would voluntarily and temporarily suspend its 24 active planes, a few hours before Boeing’s announcement.
An incident involving a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane that dropped engine parts after an explosion in the air and a fire shortly after take-off is under investigation, according to the Dutch Safety Council.
The Longtail Aviation plane spat small pieces of metal over the southern town of Meerssen, causing property damage and injuring a woman, Maastricht airport spokeswoman Hella Hendriks said.
The plane, which was heading to New York, was fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, but in a smaller version of the equipment used on the Denver flight.
In the Dutch incident, witnesses heard one or two explosions shortly after take-off, and the pilot was told by air traffic control that an engine was on fire, Hendriks said.
“The photos indicate that they were part of the engine blade, but this is under investigation,” the spokesperson said. “Several cars were damaged and parts hit several houses. Parts were found on the roofs, gardens and streets of the residential area.”
Dozens of pieces fell, she said, measuring about 5 inches wide and up to 25 inches long. The plane landed safely at Liège Airport in Belgium, about 30 kilometers south of the Dutch border.
The Dutch Security Council said the investigation was at a preliminary stage and it was too early to draw conclusions.
In a statement, Longtail Aviation also said it was “too early to speculate on what may have been the cause of the problem” and that it was working with authorities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Bermuda (where the aircraft was registered) and the UK to investigate. The incident.
The suspension Boeing announced to the 777 models is not a mandatory decision, but it is another headache for the company after the 737 MAX crisis.
In 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX aircraft took off from Indonesia’s Jakarta Airport with 189 people on board. Twelve minutes later, the plane crashed in the Java Sea, north of the capital, with no survivors.
The crash was the first involving the newly launched aircraft, the latest generation of the best-selling model in history. Since then, a second drop in similar circumstances has taken the number of fatalities in crashes involving MAX to 346, whose flights were suspended in March 2019 and which is the star of Boeing’s worst crisis.
The ban lasted 22 months until in November the FAA (US Airline Regulator) cleared flights with the 737 MAX. A few days after the US approval, Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency) also approved the resumption of operation of the Boeing 737 MAX in Brazil.
In January, it was the turn of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to authorize the return of MAX to the air, saying it had “full confidence in the safety of the aircraft” , but that she would continue to monitor operations closely.