US aviation body orders extra inspections of some Boeing 777s

Debris from the failed engine of a United Airlines airplane in the Denver suburb of Broomfield
Debris from the failed engine of a United Airlines airplane in the Denver suburb of Broomfield - Broomfield Police Department/AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

The US Federal Aviation Administration ordered extra inspections Sunday of some Boeing 777 passenger jets, after a United Airlines flight suffered engine failure a day earlier, scattering debris across a Colorado community.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said the order meant some 777s would "likely" be removed from service.

He had consulted with his team of aviation safety experts after Saturday's engine failure aboard a Boeing 777 airplane shortly after it took off from Denver.

"I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines," Dickson said in a statement released on Twitter.

A video shot from inside the aircraft -- which had 231 passengers and 10 crew onboard -- showed the right engine ablaze and wobbling on the wing of the Boeing 777-200, its cover entirely missing as the aircraft returned to Denver airport.

There were no injuries on the plane or on the ground, authorities said.

Dickson said a preliminary safety data review pointed to a need for additional checks of the jet engine's fan blades.

"Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes," Dickson said.

He added that FAA officials were meeting with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing representatives Sunday evening.

Flight UA328 had been headed from Denver to Honolulu when it experienced an engine failure shortly after departure.

Residents in the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large pieces of the plane scattered around their community, including a giant circular piece of metal that landed in someone's yard.

The pilots were able to return safely to Denver -- also known as the Mile High City.