On Saturday, Denver residents were horrified as jet engine parts from a United Airlines Boeing 777 came raining down on their heads. There was a lot of property damage but thankfully no injuries and the plane landed safely.
Alarming Jet engine fire
Passengers forgot all about the in-flight movie because they had a much more spectacular show going on outside the window. Shortly after 231 passengers and 10 crew members took off on Flight 328, from Denver to Honolulu, there was a small problem. Phone footage captured by a passenger on the jet shows “the right engine ablaze and wobbling.”
The engine cover was “entirely missing as the aircraft desperately turned back.” Things weren’t going real well on the ground below either. “Debris started raining down, which you know, sort of looked like it was floating down and not very heavy, but actually now looking at it, it’s giant metal pieces all over the place,” Kieran Cain relates.
One rattled Denver, Colorado dweller relates how he narrowly escaped death as a large piece of the engine missed him and his house by inches “but ended up crushing his truck instead.”
The jet took off an hour late but not because of the weather. It was fine. According to analysts, “The Boeing 777 climbs to the west and banks gently to starboard as it curves across the northern suburbs of Denver, traveling at 380mph and at a height of 13,500ft.” That’s when the engine exploded.
Just as the captain started an announcement, “an enormous explosion” rocked the jet and terrified the passengers “accompanied by a bright flash.” Those on the starboard side had a view of the situation. As related by Travis Loock, “There was a big boom and the kind of sound you don’t want to hear when you’re on the airplane.
I instantly put my shade up, and I was pretty frightened to see that the engine on my side was missing.” Things looked grim. “I can honestly say I thought we were going to die at one point because we started dropping altitude right after the explosion,” David Delucia exclaims. “I grabbed my wife’s hand and said, ‘We’re done.”
A bad day for Boeing
Jet plane builder Boeing has come under a lot of fire in recent years for “half-baked” counterfeit parts used in every 737 in the air today. They’re breathing a heavy sigh of relief that none of those parts were involved in this incident.
Still they had to recommend that everyone ground the planes using the same model engines for a while. All the 777 wide-body line using Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 series engines are parked. 128 of the planes have those engines but only 69 of them are in use. The rest were mothballed due to the pandemic.
There have been two similar failures of the same model of jet engines in the past few years. Both incidents involved damaged and missing fan blades. In a similar United incident, “In February 2018, a Boeing 777 operated by United had its engine cover get ripped off mid-flight as it was on its way to Hawaii.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had also blamed the incident on a broken fan blade as engine inspectors had failed to identify a sign of a crack in the blade in previous inspections.”
From the ground the amazed onlookers couldn’t tell the jet pilot knew he had a problem. “I was surprised that the plane sort of continued on uninterrupted, without really altering its trajectory or doing anything,” Kieran Cain notes.
“It just kind of kept going the way it was going as if nothing happened.” He sheltered his children “at a gazebo near the playground and watched the debris come down about two or three blocks away.”