On Saturday, a United Airlines flight destined for Honolulu landed safely at Denver International Airport after suffering engine failure. Dramatic footage and photos of its parts falling from the sky went viral on social media.
The Boeing 777-200 plane, with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board, was heading to Honolulu when it suffered an engine failure soon after takeoff, the airline said.
There were no reports of injuries, either on the plane or the ground.
Images posted by police in Broomfield, Colorado showed significant plane debris on the ground, including an engine cowling scattered outside a home and what appeared to be other parts in a field. Police tape was used to cordon off the debris.
One video taken from what appeared to be inside the United plane showed an engine on fire.
Another video on social media showed a cloud of black smoke being left by a plane.
“Something blew up,” a man on the video can be heard saying.
In an audio recording, a United pilot could be heard making a mayday call to air traffic control.
“Mayday, aircraft just experienced engine failure, need to turn immediately,” according to audio from the monitoring website liveatc.net which was reviewed by Reuters.
The FAA said it and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate. The NTSB said it had opened an investigation.
Photos and videos of the plane's burning engine and its parts falling from the sky have been shared widely by locals, journalists and even cops. Take a look.
United Airlines Boeing 777 operating as flight 328 flying from Denver - Honolulu suffered a serious engine failure on takeoff. It made an emergency landing and everyone is ok.Check out these pieces of the engine falling from the sky...pic.twitter.com/1IyBj6Nlf2— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) February 20, 2021
JUST IN: Denver International Airport officials tell us United Airlines Flight 328 bound for Honolulu returned to the airport after an engine problem. Neighbors heard a loud boom, took these photos of what look like Boeing 777 engine nacelle in their yards. pic.twitter.com/mklpz3VG4F— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) February 20, 2021
A passenger on United 328 took this video of flames shooting out from the engine. Some people told me they said prayers and held their loved ones' hands as they looked out the window. Flight was on its way to Hawaii from Denver. Glad everyone onboard is safe #9News pic.twitter.com/c8TNYlugU2— Marc Sallinger (@MarcSallinger) February 20, 2021
It's truly amazing no one in the air or on the ground was injured today. The debris that fell on a Broomfield neighborhood easily could have been deadly. Look at the size of the engine parts littered around the areaPics: @BroomfieldPD #9News pic.twitter.com/1t59AZhXt7— Marc Sallinger (@MarcSallinger) February 21, 2021
This photo was taken near 13th and Elmwood. Media stage in Commons Park on North side near dog park. PIO eta is 30 mins. pic.twitter.com/vfXlToB5mE— Broomfield Police (@BroomfieldPD) February 20, 2021
The 26-year-old 777 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. Investigators will focus on what caused the accident and will look at whether a fan blade failed.
Boeing said its technical advisers would assist the NTSB with its investigation, while United pledged to “work with federal agencies investigating this incident.”
United said most of the passengers on Flight 328 took off on a new flight to Honululu late Saturday.
Engine failures are rare but are potentially dangerous whenever rotating parts pierce the outer casing - an event known as an uncontained engine failure.
In February 2018, an older Boeing 777 operated by United and bound for Honolulu suffered an engine failure when a cowling fell off about 30 minutes before the plane landed safely. The NTSB determined that incident was the result of a full-length fan blade fracture.
Because of the United fan blade separation incident, Pratt & Whitney, which is unit of Raytheon, reviewed inspection records for all previously inspected PW4000 fan blades, the NTSB said. The FAA in March 2019 issued a directive requiring initial and recurring inspections of the fan blades on the PW4000 engines.
(With inputs from Reuters)