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A Boeing 777-200 experienced catastrophic failure of its right engine above Denver, Colorado enroute to Hawaii. Debris fell to the ground, some of it in large pieces, and insulation ash was also observed descending, but no one was injured and the plane was able to land safely. Needless to say FAA and NTSB will be looking into the incident. Various photos were posted on Twitter, one of them appearing to show a broken fan blade in the engine.
Debris from a United Airlines plane fell onto Denver suburbs during an emergency landing Saturday, with one very large piece that appears to be part of the engine narrowly missing a home. No injuries were reported.
Video posted on Twitter showed the engine engulfed in flames as the plane flew. Freeze frames from different video taken by a passenger sitting slightly in front of the engine and posted on Twitter appeared to show a broken fan blade in the engine.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Authorities have not released any details about what may have caused the failure.
Based on initial photos and videos posted by passengers, aviation safety experts said the plane appeared to have suffered an uncontained and catastrophic engine failure. Such an event is extremely rare and happens when huge spinning discs inside the engine suffer some sort of failure and breach the armored casing around the engine that is designed to contain the damage, said John Cox, an aviation safety expert and retired airline pilot who runs an aviation safety consulting firm called Safety Operating Systems.
“That unbalanced disk has a lot of force in it, 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 phone interview.
Former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall called the incident another example of “cracks in our culture in aviation safety [that] need to be addressed.”
Hall, who was on the board from 1994 to 2001, has criticized the FAA over the last decade as “drifting toward letting the manufacturers provide the aviation oversight that the public was paying for.” That goes especially for Boeing, he said.