U.S. aviation safety regulators were considering whether to require further inspections of certain Pratt & Whitney engines before one of a United Airlines Holdings Inc. flight broke over a city near Denver on Saturday, the Federal Administration said. aircraft.
The disclosure came when US safety investigators said they found evidence of “damage consistent with metal fatigue” to one of the motor’s fan blades that had been largely ripped off. That loose leaf apparently cut part of a second leaf that was also fractured, said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, at a news conference Monday night.
Sumwalt said investigators are investigating why an outer cover known as the fairing came off, as well as why the damaged engine remained on fire even after the flight crew turned off the fuel.
Last weekend’s incident was the third in a series of failures involving the same engine and aircraft types in recent years. US regulators had previously ordered intensified fan blade inspections after a previous engine failure on another United flight on a Boeing 777 in 2018. Then, in December, an engine failed during a Japan Airlines Co. flight to Tokyo, prompting fresh scrutiny from the FAA. .
There were similarities between the incident in Japan and the incident in Colorado. Japan’s Transportation Safety Board said a fan blade that came off that engine showed signs of metal fatigue. Another sheet was split roughly in half.