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Boeing Seeks Grounding Of 777s Equipped With Pratt-Whitney Engine Model

Boeing Seeks Grounding Of 777s Equipped With Pratt-Whitney Engine Model

Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) has called for the suspension of all 777 aircraft powered by a specific Pratt & Whitney engine model following a Saturday incident in Denver which United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL)-flown 777's engine failed during a flight and littered debris from its outer casing on the city below.

What Happened: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has begun an investigation of the United flight, which returned safely to its embarkation site in Denver without injuries, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the immediate suspension of all 777 flights on aircraft using the 4000-112 engine made by Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX).

Saturday’s incident marked the second time in three months that a 777 experienced engine failure during a flight. On Dec. 4, 2020, a Japan Airlines (JAL) (Pink: JAPSY) flight from Naha Airport on Okinawa to Tokyo was forced to returned to Naha after the left engine malfunctioned. An initial investigation by Japanese inspectors determined the JAL aircraft’s left engine’s fan blades were damaged.

“Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328,” said the company in a press statement. “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,” the statement added. 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.”

The 777 is an older model — the airplane in the Colorado incident is 26 years old — and United is the only U.S. airline still using the jet. In addition to United and JAL, the aircraft is still being flown by ANA Holdings Inc. (Pink: ANPLY), Asiana Airlines Inc and Korean Air Lines Co Ltd.

Pratt & Whitney announced that it dispatched a team to work with federal investigators on the engine failure of Flight 328, adding in a statement that “any further investigative updates regarding this event will be at the discretion of the NTSB.”

What Happens Next: The 777 problems are the latest headache for Boeing, which saw the global grounding of its 737 MAX passenger airliners from March 2019 to December 2020 after the deaths of 346 on flights on Indonesia’s Lion Air in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines in March 2019.

Last month, the company agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge related to the two crashes.

BA, RTX, UAL Price Action: Boeing shares were down 0.78% at $215.78 at last check Monday. United Airlines shares were trading 5.08% higher at $50.47. Raytheon shares were down 1.43% at $73.20. 

A United Airlines 777 made by Boeing. Photo by Altair78/Creative Commons.


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