NTSB: Damage to United Boeing 777 Engine Consistent With Metal Fatigue

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
The damaged starboard engine of United Airlines flight 328, a Boeing 777-200. (National Transportation Safety Board/Handout via Reuters)

Damage to a fan blade on an engine that failed on a United Airlines Boeing 777 flight is consistent with metal fatigue, based on a preliminary assessment, the chairman of the U.S. air accident investigator said on Monday.

The engine that failed on the 26-year-old Boeing Co 777 and shed parts over a Denver suburb was a PW4000 used on 128 planes, or less than 10% of the global fleet of more than 1,600 delivered 777 widebody jets.

In another incident on Japan Airlines (JAL) 777 with a PW4000 engine in December 2020, Japan’s Transport Safety Board reported it found two damaged fan blades, one with a metal fatigue crack. An investigation is ongoing.

The focus is more on engine maker Pratt and analysts expect little financial impact on Boeing, but the PW4000 issues are a fresh headache for the planemaker as it recovers from the far more serious 737 MAX crisis. Boeing’s flagship narrowbody jet was grounded for nearly two years after two deadly crashes.

The United engine’s fan blade will be examined on Tuesday after being flown to a Pratt laboratory where it will be examined under supervision of NTSB investigators.