Responding to the United Airlines 777-200 Pratt & Whitney engine incident that occurred over the weekend, Boeing now recommends that all 777 operators with such engines to suspend operations while an investigation is performed. The announcement comes after Japan ordered the aircraft grounded and United Airlines and Korean Air voluntarily suspended operations of its 777s with these engines.
Boeing: Suspend Pratt & Whitney-Powered 777s
Yesterday, Boeing issued the following statement concerning the incident:
Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328. 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.
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. 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.
128 aircraft are impacted by the suspension recommendation, including:
- 69 in service
- 59 in storage
- Korean Air
- United Airlines
At the point, the suspension recommendations are voluntary. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration did issue an order yesterday requiring “stepped-up” inspections:
After consulting with my team of aviation safety experts about yesterday’s engine failure aboard a Boeing 777 airplane in Denver, I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.
Statement from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. pic.twitter.com/dGkUYuKNAL
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) February 21, 2021
Japan Had Already Taken Action Prior To Boeing Recommendation
Before Boeing’s announcement, Japan’s transportation ministry ordered that All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) ground all 777 aircraft with Pratt & Whitney engines. That includes 19 777s operated by ANA and 13 by JAL.
The announcement interrupted some flights on Sunday, but aircraft swaps helped ANA and JAL to avoid flight cancellations today.
Interestingly, on December 4, 2020 a JAL 777-200 traveling from Okinawa Naha (OKA) to Tokyo Haneda (HND) operating with the same Pratt & Whitney engine experienced engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing. JAL and Japanese authorities determined fan blade issues were to blame for the incident, which now appears to be a recurring theme.
Korean Air + Asiana Take Different Approaches
In South Korea, Korean Air voluntarily grounded all its 777s with the Pratt & Whitney engines. It operates 16 of these aircraft, with 10 stored and the remaining six now grounded.
Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines has nine 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines and has not taken any action yet to ground the aircraft.
Around the world, airlines are voluntarily suspending Boeing 777 operations for aircraft frames featuring Pratt & Whitney engines. The length of the investigation is not clear, but it may be several weeks before we see these aircraft in the air again.
image: Aero Icarus