The engine fire of a Boeing 777 connecting Denver (Colorado) to Honolulu (Hawaii) is believed to be due to “metal fatigue”. Fortunately, the incident did not cause any death or injury but constitutes a new setback for the American aircraft manufacturer.
“Metal fatigue” is now the lead favored by the authorities to explain the spectacular fire in one of the engines that occurred last week on a United Airlines flight in the United States, which led to the immobilization of a part of the global Boeing 777 fleet.
A Boeing 777-220 of the American company United Airlines which had just taken off Saturday from Denver (Colorado) for Honolulu (Hawaii) with 231 passengers and 10 crew members had seen its right engine catch fire and lose its fairing, and the pilots had to turn around urgently.
As the plane returned to the airport, a shower of debris, some large, had fallen on a residential area in suburban Denver. No one was injured on the ground and the aircraft was able to land safely.
The American aircraft manufacturer recommended Sunday evening the suspension of flights of the 128 aircraft concerned around the world, and a spokeswoman confirmed to AFP on Monday that they were all immobilized. Of these, 69 were in service, including 24 at United Airlines, 13 at Japan Airlines (JAL), 19 at All Nippon Airways (ANA), 7 at Asiana and 6 at Korean Air. The other 59 devices were stored separately.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Regulatory Authority (FAA) has ordered additional inspections on these Boeing 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the ‘incident. “A preliminary on-site examination indicates damage consistent with metal fatigue,” Robert Sumwalt, president of the NTSB, said Monday at a press briefing.
He also confirmed that two of the fan blades had been damaged. One of them was found on a soccer field, the other remained lodged in the engine.
FAA officials met with representatives from Boeing and Pratt & Whitney on Sunday evening. The US engine manufacturer said he was cooperating with the NTSB and “will continue to work to ensure the safe operation of the fleet”. United Airlines, for its part, has decided to remove the aircraft from its flight schedule and will continue to work closely with regulators to determine additional steps. ”
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