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FAA orders spot checks of Boeing 777 engines

(AP photo)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Tuesday it is ordering immediate inspections of Boeing 777-200 plans with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines ahead of more flights after an engine malfunctions on a United flight on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said operators should perform a thermal-acoustic image inspection of the large titanium fan blades located at the front of each engine.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that the cracked propeller blade from the blazing Flight 328 engine was consistent with metal fatigue.

“Based on preliminary results that we have received, as well as other data gained from the ongoing investigation, the FAA may revise this guidance to determine a new time period for this examination or subsequent periods,” the Federal Aviation Administration said.

In March 2019, after a 2018 United engine failure attributed to fan blade fatigue, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections every 6,500 revolutions. The course is one takeoff and landing.

South Korea’s transportation ministry said on Tuesday it had asked its airlines to check propeller blades every 1,000 times, following Pratt’s directive after United’s recent accident.

An airline typically collects 1,000 laps every 10 months on the 777, according to an industry source familiar with the matter.

The engine that failed on a 26-year-old Boeing 777 that landed in parts of a Denver suburb on Saturday was a PW4000. The engines are used in 128 aircraft, or less than 10% of the global fleet of more than 1,600 aircraft that delivered 777 wide-body aircraft.

Boeing recommended that airlines suspend use of the plans while the Federal Aviation Administration has identified an appropriate inspection protocol, and Japan imposed a temporary suspension of flights after this incident.

United, the sole American operator, had temporarily grounded its fleet ahead of the FAA announcement.

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