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Boeing engine failure: Engine on United Airlines flight was showing signs of metal fatigue, NTSB says

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The Pratt & Whitney engine that failed minutes into United Airlines flight 328 showed signs of metal fatigue, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said during their first public briefing on Monday. The new finding is perhaps the most significant in the investigation into Saturday's in-flight incident-- one that led United Airlines to ground all of its Boeing 777s powered by PW4000 series engines and prompted federal regulators to re-examine how often the engines… (www.msn.com) Altro...

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sparkie624
sparkie624 11
Why is everyone trying to throw this on Boeing.... It is clear in the regulations... Boeing is responsible for the Airframe, Pratt and Whitney is responsible for the Engine.. Bad title on the Article. Stupid News media has reporters that cant tell the difference between and Engine and a Elevator!
jptq63
jptq63 1
Marketing and money.... Most folks here realize and understand these differences, but John / Jane / Pat Q. Public(if you remember or know or SNL; makes me a bit sick for reasons not shared here...) know Boeing or Airbus and United or Delta or SW or AA, but not much more than I buy a ticket, go though security (TSA? what is that?), sit in a seat, ignore the greeerrr noise, look out the window from the window seat and go we are almost there, and then think, ok, how can I get my overhead and up the aisle before the people in the middle and aisle seats. It is pretty darn lucky to even hear on the news anything like the so and so makes this engine and it use on all these other planes as well. I.e. an entity might be able to make a bunch of money by getting people to believe go on such a plane or such an airline I might die, but if I fly plane B or airline X I am safe. Why I wonder about the perception; took me a bit of time to learn this better vs. just looking at the specs of how things actually work.
sparkie624
sparkie624 2
That is true... But everyone here should understand the difference.... The General public does not understand.. but if there are any suits... they will go to or redirected to Pratt!
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling -6
The plane was a 'package deal' from Boeing. It's Boeing's product. The engine was on their list of suppliers. There is an implied degree of responsibility for what happens to that engine but not necessarily a 'legal' responsibility. True, it's a P&W issue, but the media isn't totally out there to refer to it as being a 'Boeing issue'. The article itself separated out the P&W component, but it WAS a Boeing plane.

If you had a Chevrolet car with an Opal engine, would you go to Opal for an engine failure, or Chevrolet/GM?
sparkie624
sparkie624 8
Most of the time with the plane is ordered Boeing offers a Choice of Engine... Just like buying a car... But legally according to the FAA the Engine Manufacturer is responsible and not the Airframe Manufacturer.. If you want to alter an engine, you call Pratt, not Boeing.... this is entirely on Pratt and has nothing to do with Boeing. - Cars are different.. Need to check your Regulations on that one When you buy a GM Car, they install the motor... when you buy a Jet Airliner, the Engine is option that you chose... United Chose Pratt... Pratt is responsible, not boeing... You need to do a lot more research on this one.
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 2
When I was in Germany, my Ford had a Peugeot diesel engine.

Mr. Cowling does have a point. To the average flyer out there, they look at a plane pretty much the same way they look at a car. It has a Boeing badge on it, so it must all be made by Boeing. Most consumers probably couldn't name two turbine engine makers.
jptq63
jptq63 1
I think a better example of what you may be trying to express would be like a GEO vs. Toyota or the Toyota Yaris (current version) vs. a Mazda 2 for the car example. Most people may never know the only difference between the vehicle was what dealer and, literally, what logo / hood ornament was glued on.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling 1
True. I remember, decades ago, the Opal partnership, and Opal engines showing up in some cars. I thought they were GM's low end cars.

I do remember people losing their poop over finding an 'Oldsmobile' engine in a Chevy. Well, they BOTH a GM product.

Speaking of, I had a guy rip my butt for owning a Toyota, and being curious, I checked the 'foreign content', and found out that my Toyota, made in America, had a higher percentage of 'American made' parts than his GM car. I was shocked for a Toyota. But whatever. I get it.

And another post of mine is ripped to shreds. Enjoy trolls. I'm back for a limited time only...
frankidee
Frank DeLeon 6
The fellow who posted the story titled it wrong. The article itself correctly names the problem by stating that it was a Pratt & Whitney engine and not a Boeing engine.
sparkie624
sparkie624 3
You are correct.. But most of the public is too stupid to see it.
RetiredCaptain
Jasper Buck 2
The FAA has published an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2021-05-51 which is being sent to owners and operators of Pratt
& Whitney Division (PW) PW4074, PW4074D, PW4077, PW4077D, PW4084D, PW4090, and PW4090-3 model turbofan engines.

Background. This emergency AD was prompted by the in-flight failure of a 1st-stage low-pressure compressor (LPC) blade on a PW4077 model turbofan engine resulting in an engine fire during flight. This condition, if not addressed, could result in 1st-stage LPC blade release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

Relevant Service Information. The FAA reviewed Pratt & Whitney Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) PW4G-112-A72-268, Revision No. 7, dated September 6, 2018. This ASB specifies procedures for performing thermal acoustic image (TAI) inspections of 1st-stage LPC blades.

FAA’s Determination. The FAA is issuing this AD because the agency has determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

The AD can be found here:
https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attachments/Emergency%20AD%20Document%20AD-2021-00188-E.pdf

Best

Capt J Buck
Propwash122
Peter Fuller 2
News reports and photos mostly zero in on failed fan blades, but the AD calls out failed 1st-stage LPC blade. ??
mbrews
mbrews 1
Thanks for the factual posting, Capt Buck.

Also good to hear from P. Fuller ; we share memories of plane spotting at KORL Orlando Executive - (formerly Herndon )
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
Not to offend the many great AME’s out there, but do you think there is a correlation between the uptick in mechanical failures and the influx of new personnel in charge of maintenance? Akin to the same issue with pilots! I would have thought that the reduced flying over the past year, maintenance would have caught up with all the squawks? Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t “on condition” still require x-ray, dye penetration and other non- destructive testing methods to maintain airworthiness or did this engine slip through the cracks......pardon the pun.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling -1
From a third part setting, I'd think more of the problem lies in companies struggling with profitability and wanting to 'contain' maintenance costs. It's not cheap to do a complete replacement of a bunch of engines. It's not cheap to take a plane off the line to take its engines off and inspect every blade in both engines.

History is filled with stories of shoddy maintenance being performed by third party maintenance facilities that (cut corners) are priced well. Plus the FAA, as we should all be aware of, was allowing companies to 'self-certify' their repairs.

Who knows who last saw that engine. Who knows how through the inspections at the factory were if it hadn't had any maintenance to this point.

If anything, I'd wonder if United found a 'just as good' maintenance facility that saved them big money, and they bought it. They got what they wanted. Cheap maintenance. Pay now, or pay later?

But the investigators will (hopefully) track down the issues.
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling 1
Interesting... It has happened before, but very infrequently.


United Airlines Flight 1175

On February 13, 2018, a Boeing 777-200 with PW4077-112 engines performing United Airlines Flight 1175 from San Francisco to Honolulu, about 45 minutes before landing, suffered a fan blade failure, which caused much of the inlet and cowl to separate from the engine. There was minor damage to the fuselage caused by the ejected debris. The NTSB's final report noted that the primary cause was lapses and failures in P&W's fan blade inspection, resulting in a cracked blade erroneously returning to service. An inspector had seen possible sign of the crack in the blade years before but attributed it to paint.


Other noted failures:

Korean Air Flight 2708

On May 27, 2016, a Boeing 777-300 of Korean Air, operating as Korean Air Flight 2708 from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Seoul's Gimpo International Airport, was accelerating for take off when its left engine, PW4098-112 engine suffered an uncontained failure and a substantial fire ensued. The crew aborted the take-off, and after the aircraft came to a stop the fire was extinguished by the airport emergency services. No fatalities were recorded.

Japan Airlines Flight JL-904

On December 4, 2020, a Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200, registration JA8978 performing flight JL-904 from Okinawa to Tokyo Haneda with 178 passengers and 11 crew, was climbing out of Okinawa when the left hand engine (PW4074) failed and its access doors ripped off with huge noises prompting the crew to stop the climb and return to Okinawa for a safe landing about 35 minutes after departure. The aircraft stopped on the runway and was subsequently towed to the apron.
sho69607
Spencer Hoefer 1
Wasn't this what brought down United 232?
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling 2
Different plane, and different situations, but potentially just as disastrous.

232 was brought down because the center engine failed, and the failure was severe enough to slice through many hydraulic systems that were, unbelievably, interconnected. You would assume that if one line was cut, the other systems would still function, but the tail area was where a of of them concentrated connections and pressure lines. Yes, changes were made. Did it make it safer? For that type of engine failure, yes.

We can't mince words here. It is possible that this engine failure could have been a heck of a lot worse. If those P&W engines have a *potential* for a blade separation that could lead to an uncontained engine failure, that needs to be taken seriously. On that day TWO engines of that model failed. What is the connection? Hollow blades? Well those blades need to be examined as soon as humanly possible. Was it a bad lot? Was it a bad inspection process? Was it just a bad design. All of that needs to be investigated.

This could have gone very badly.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 2
It triggered it, yes. The engine failure took out the hydraulics, otherwise the loss of the engine would have been largely inconsequential. There have been design changes mandated since then which are supposed to prevent a similar accident.
watkinssusan
mary susan watkins -1
AIRCRAFT,JUST LIKE AN AUTOMOBILE AND A LOT OF MECHNICAL THINGS,ARE NOT COMPOSED /COMPRISED OF PIECES AND PARTS FROM JUST ONE MANUFACTURER..THIS SORT OF ISSUE HAS OCCURRED BEFORE ON VARIOUS AIRCRAFT,WHERE A PIECE OF THE METAL "WEB" INSIDE THE ENGINE HAS BROKEN OFF AND PUNCTURED THE FUSELAGE OR THE ENGINE ITSELF..THIS SHOWS MORE OF A LACK OF MECHANICAL INSPECTION OF THE AIRCRAFT AND THE ENGINES BY UNITED AIRLINES..IT ALSO MIGHT BE POINTED OUT HOW OLD THE AIRCRAFT IS, HOW MANY FRAME HOURS IT HAS,AND IF THERE HAD BEEN A RECENT INSPECTION BY UNITED MECHANICS OF THAT PARTICULAR PLANE...BOEING IS GETTING A LOT OF FLACK LATELY, AND SOME OF IT IS DESERVED,BUT THIS IS NOT A BOEING ISSUE,AND AN ENGINE WITHOUT MAINTNENCE NOR INSPECTION,OR OVERLOOKING "SMALL" ISSUES,WHETHER ITS A CAR OR A PLANE,WILLBREAK OR MALFUNCTION..THEY ARE NOT MADE TO BER PERMANENT...
markaharris
Mark Harris 1
Please turn off your caps lock - this is hurting my eyes!
Propwash122
Peter Fuller 1
mary susan watkins: no need to shout, please check your caps lock
Quirkyfrog
Robert Cowling 1
So, as the plane you are in is heading to a crater, about to be created by said plane, we can rest assured that you will be cursing the airline, and the various inspectors that approved the engine that had an uncontained engine failure, that propelled a large part of a fan disc through the lower fuselage, into the cables connecting the front of the plane to the rear, causing it to lose control and plummet to the ground.

So, who routed the cables where they were, who recommended that engine as a choice on their plane. Who DELIVERED said plane to the airline.

There is room for Boeing to have some degree of culpability in this. Is Boeing guilty? That remains to be seen. Is P&W on the hook? Yep, and if investigators find that Boeing knew there *might* be issues with the P&W engines, SO IS BOEING!

So things need to play out. The volumes of data on the maintenance on those engines needs to be combed through. Who last looked at those engines. What kinds of tests were run. Who did those tests. Who certified those tests. Were those tests actually run, and run to industry standards. There is a lot of data that has to be sifted through, and in the process of that, true responsibility may be found. Until then, it's a Boeing plane, delivered with Boeing recommended supplier engines, and if Boeing had any even remote inkling that there might be a problem with those engines, or that supplier, they will be found to be responsible, at some level.

Until then, stop the blind support of a company that doesn't engineer planes any longer. It's embarrassing...
mbrews
mbrews 3
Lost and unmentioned in all this lawyerly bloviating is clarity of who OWNS these aircraft. OWNED by United Airlines for 25 + years. The Japanese and other 777 owners for decades.

Owners have an obligation to maintain properly, which includes oversight of maintenance & repairs.

A better analogy is : your ill-maintained 26 year old Toyota has its rusted hood fly off, strikes and injures a pedestrian. The pedestrian has a course of action against YOU the owner of the ancient, out-of warranty rustbucket.

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