FAA administrator orders immediate, stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes after United flight 328 engine failure

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The FAA administrator is ordering immediate or increased inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes after United flight 328 experienced engine failure.

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Some planes will be removed from service.

The administrator ordered a Emergency Airworthiness Directive on planes that have particular Pratt and Whitney PW4000 engines.

We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident. Based on the initial information, we 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 FAA is working closely with other civil aviation authorities to make this information available to affected operators in their jurisdictions. The FAA’s aviation safety experts are meeting into the evening with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to finalize the details of the Airworthiness Directive and any accompanying service bulletins to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included in the order. Exact details of the inspection will be specified in the emergency order.

Steve Dickson
FAA Administrator

United Airlines issued the following statement:

Starting immediately and out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily and temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule. Since yesterday, we’ve been in touch with regulators at the NTSB and FAA and will continue to work closely with them to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service. As we swap out aircraft, we expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.

Safety remains our highest priority – for our employees and our customers. That’s why our pilots and flight attendants take part in extensive training to prepare and manage incidents like United flight 328. And we remain proud of their professionalism and steadfast dedication to safety in our day to day operations and when emergencies like this occur.

United Airlines

A total of 231 passengers and 10 crew members were onboard the flight, when an engine failed and caught fire after takeoff. The crew was able to return and make a safe landing. Although some passengers elected not to get on a second flight from Denver to Honolulu. United Airlines says the majority of customers carried on to be home.

Loved ones could be seen anxiously waiting at baggage claim for passengers who were on UA Flight 328.

“It’s been really stressful. I’m so thankful the pilots landed that plane and everybody got out of the plane safe, but it’s been a really hard day though,” said Alicia Reese, who was waiting for her husband to land. The two hadn’t seen each other in two months.

“I love him. I’m so excited. I just want to wrap my arms around him,” said Reese, emotionally. “It was really hard to know what was going on and I thought he was joking. He started sending me the videos of the engine on fire and it made it very real.”

Hugs were seen held a little tighter and longer as many were happy to have arrived safely.

“I’m happy I’m home, but I don’t think everything really hit me yet. But it will,” said passenger Lei Salinas. “I couldn’t sleep on the airplane. I kept seeing planes taking off. I probably will have nightmares.”

“Just seeing the news outlets today, I’m a little more nerved today than I was yesterday, almost, you know. I just think, I just keep replaying it in my mind,” said Barbra Underwood who was on the flight with her husband Ed.

“It was a little nerve-wracking getting on the second airplane after what just happened. But living in Hawaii, we figured you just got to get back on the horse, right?” added Ed Underwood.

Barbra says she couldn’t sit next to the window again and had to change seats on the later flight to Honolulu.

“I really didn’t want to even get on that second flight. I wanted to take a day and just, you know, kind of recoup, but because of our 72 hour window with our COVID test, I had to go,” said Barbra.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the engine failure. The correct date is Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. The story has been corrected.

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