While aircraft engine failures happen all the time (I’ve seen a few over the years), a United Airlines 777 today suffered a major engine failure that is sure to make nationwide headlines and scare almost anyone.
UA328 was scheduled to run from Denver to Honolulu today. The aircraft had 241 people on board, including 231 passengers and 10 crew members.
However, when the 777 climbed over 13,000 feet, it struggled with its correct engine. Below is a video of what the passengers saw in the cabin.
– michaela🦋 (@michaelagiulia) February 20, 2021
On the ground, people describe how they hear a loud bang and then see debris falling from the sky. In fact, near Broomfield, west of Denver, some significant parts of the right engine fell to the ground.
– Tamas KL (@tamaskls) February 20, 2021
In some cases, the rubble barely missed homes …
JUST IN: Denver International Airport officials tell us that United Airlines Flight 328 to Honolulu has returned to the airport after an engine problem. The neighbors heard a loud bang and took these photos of a Boeing 777 engine nacelle in their yards. pic.twitter.com/mklpz3VG4F
– Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) February 20, 2021
… while in at least one case it went through the roof of a house and one person said they were only three feet from the impact area while making a sandwich.
MORE: The homeowner told Denver7 he was two feet from the impact area and was making a sandwich when it happened. He was not injured https://t.co/AF2nvaVnzK pic.twitter.com/Qxi8a9Y8nw
– Robert Garrison (@ robg970) February 20, 2021
Below is the ATC audio of the incident. This really gives you a sense of how much the pilots were dealing with, and you can even hear the engine fire alarm in the background (as it sounds). “Mayday, Mayday, United, uh, 28 … United 328 heavy, Mayday, Mayday, planes, uh …”
As you can hear, the crew declared a “Mayday Mayday” which is reserved for life threatening emergencies. “Pan Pan” is used for situations where help is needed but there is no immediate risk. Given the severity of this situation, it’s no surprise that the crew left with Mayday.
The plane spent just under 25 minutes in the air before landing safely in Denver (though not entirely in one piece).
Below is video footage from the plane landing in Denver where you can hear passengers cheering.
This is when United Flight 328 landed in DIA
You can see damage to the right engine.
– Chris Vanderveen (@chrisvanderveen) February 20, 2021
The aircraft involved in the incident had the registration code N772UA. This was only the fifth Boeing 777 ever produced. The aircraft entered United’s fleet as the ninth 777 in the airline’s fleet 26 years ago (it didn’t enter until a little later because it was being used as a test frame for Boeing). This shouldn’t compromise the safety of the aircraft in any way, provided it’s well maintained, but I still want to keep a record of the aircraft’s history.
At this point, it is too early to know what caused this, even though the NTSB has already opened an investigation into the incident, so we should learn more about it at some point.
NTSB has opened an investigation into the February 20, 2021 motoring event on a United 777. Denver-based NTSB investigators respond.
– NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) February 20, 2021
What a terrible incident. Enormously Kudos to the pilots for getting this aircraft safely back to the ground without anyone being injured (both in the air and on the ground). What an amazing testimony to how well planes are built as the plane was running exactly as it should when something went wrong.
It seems like this could have ended very differently, especially with engine parts ending up in the neighborhood.