Debris from a United Airlines plane fell on the Denver suburbs during an emergency landing Saturday after one of its engines suffered a catastrophic failure and pieces of the engine casing rained down in a neighborhood where he hardly saw a home.
The plane landed safely and no one on board or on the ground was injured, authorities said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 returned to Denver International Airport after experiencing a right engine failure shortly after takeoff. Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Honolulu when the incident occurred, the agency said.
United said in a separate statement that there were 231 passengers and 10 crew on board. The airline did not elaborate.
The Broomfield Police Department posted photos on Twitter that showed large circular pieces of debris leaning against a home in the suburb about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Denver. The police are calling for all the injured to come forward.
Tyler Thal, who lives in the area, told The Associated Press that he was taking a walk with his family when he noticed a large commercial plane flying unusually low and pulled out his phone to film it.
“As I was looking at it, I saw an explosion and then the cloud of smoke and some debris falling from it. It was like a stain in the sky, and as I watch it, I tell my family what I just saw and then we hear the explosion, “he said in a telephone interview. “The plane just kept going and we didn’t see it after that.”
Thal was relieved to learn later that the plane had made a safe landing.
Video posted on Twitter showed the engine completely engulfed in flames as the plane flew through the air.
Aviation security experts said the plane appeared to have suffered irrepressible and catastrophic engine failure. Such an event is extremely rare and occurs when huge spinning discs inside the engine suffer some kind of failure and break the armored casing around the engine that is designed to contain the damage, said John Cox, an aviation security expert and airline pilot. Retired who runs an aviation security consulting company called Safety Operating Systems.
“That unbalanced disk has a lot of force and it’s spinning at several thousand rotations per minute … and when you have that much centrifugal force, it has to go somewhere,” he said in a telephone interview.
Pilots practice dealing with such an event frequently and would have immediately shut off anything flammable in the engine, including fuel and hydraulic fluid with a single switch, Cox said.
Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall called the incident another example of “cracks in our aviation safety culture (that) need to be addressed.
Hall, who was on the board from 1994-2001, has criticized the FAA for the past decade for “letting manufacturers provide the oversight of aviation that the public was paying for.” That especially applies to Boeing, he said.
Despite the terrifying appearance of a burning engine, most of these incidents do not result in loss of life, Cox said.
The latest death on a US airline flight involved an engine failure on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas in April 2018. A passenger died when the engine disintegrated more than 30,000 feet above Pennsylvania and debris struck. the plane, breaking the window. next to your seat. They forced her to the middle of the window before other passengers pushed her inside.
In that case, the failure was attributed to a broken fan blade in a Boeing 737 engine. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered airlines to intensify inspections of the fan blades on certain engines manufactured by CFM International, a company. joint of General Electric and the French company. Safran SA
In 2010, a Qantas Airbus A380 suffered a terrifying irrepressible engine failure shortly after takeoff from Singapore. Shrapnel from the engine damaged critical aircraft systems, but the pilots were able to land safely. The incident was attributed to faulty fabrication of a pipe in the Rolls Royce engine.
“The flames scare everyone. But they are the least problem because it will turn them off and turn off anything that can burn, ”Cox said.