DENVER (AP / CBS4) – Aviation safety experts said United Airlines Flight 328 appeared to have suffered an uncontrolled and catastrophic engine failure on Saturday over the Denver metro area. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 returned to Denver International Airport after suffering a failure of the right engine shortly after takeoff and no one was injured.
Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Honolulu when the incident occurred and debris fell in the Broomfield neighborhoods, but no one on the ground was injured.
READ MORE: Plane debris falls from sky and parts of Broomfield
Such an event is extremely rare and occurs when huge rotating discs inside the engine suffer some kind of failure and rupture the armored casing around the engine which is designed to contain the damage, said John Cox, safety expert. airline and retired airline pilot. an aviation safety consultancy firm called Safety Operating Systems.
“This unbalanced disc has a lot of force in it, and it spins at several thousand rotations per minute… and when you have that much centrifugal force, it has to go somewhere,” he said in a phone interview with Associated Press.
Pilots frequently train to deal with such an event and would immediately shut off anything flammable in the engine, including fuel and hydraulic fluid, with a single switch, Cox said.
Former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall called the incident a new example of “cracks in our aviation safety culture (which) must be addressed.”
Hall, who served on the board of directors from 1994 to 2001, criticized the FAA over the past decade as “a tendency to let manufacturers provide oversight of aviation the public paid for.” This is particularly true for Boeing, he said.
READ MORE: PHOTO GALLERY: Plane wreckage falls on Broomfield
Despite the frightening appearance of a burning engine, most of these incidents did not result in loss of life, Cox said.
The latest fatality on a US airline flight involved such an engine failure on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas in April 2018. A passenger was killed when the engine disintegrated over 30,000 feet over Pennsylvania and debris struck the aircraft, shattering the window. next to his seat. She was forced halfway through the window before other passengers brought her back inside.
In that case, the failure was blamed on a broken fan blade in an engine of the Boeing 737. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to step up inspections of fan blades on certain engines manufactured by CFM International, a joint- venture of General Electric and France. Safran SA
In 2010, a Qantas Airbus A380 suffered a frightening uncontained engine failure shortly after take off from Singapore. Engine bursts damaged critical aircraft systems, but the pilots were able to land safely. The incident was blamed on the faulty manufacture of a hose in the Rolls Royce engine.
“The flames frighten everyone. But they’re the least of the problems because you’re going to put them out and you’re going to put out anything that can burn, ”Cox said.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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