United Airlines grounded 24 Boeing 777-200 aircraft today in response to an FAA emergency airworthiness directive that requires immediate inspection of all PW4000 engines. The inspection mandate is in response to yesterday’s catastrophic engine failure aboard United Flight 328 bound to Honolulu, Hawaii from Denver International Airport. That flight made an emergency return to the airport. All 231 passengers onboard were unharmed.
The Pratt & Whitney PW4000 was designed for the Boeing 777. With over 90,000 lbs of thrust, it was one of the largest jet engines ever placed on an airliner when it first entered service. The United jets affected are some of the oldest 777s in their fleet, largely flying domestic trunk routes.
In a statement, United Airlines stated that they are removing the aircraft from their schedule. They will “work closely with regulators to determine any additional steps and expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.
In a parallel move, Japan also grounded all Boeing 777s powered by the PW4000 engine. A check of flight schedules showed that both ANA and Japan Airlines have removed the affected Boeing 777-200s from their schedule.