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Boeing Suspends Use of 777 Jets

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Just after coming out of its 737 Max fiasco, Boeing Co is in new trouble again over the safety of its 777 jets.

On Sunday night, the plane maker recommended to airlines to suspend the use of the jets with the same type of engine that shed debris over Denver at the weekend.

This was after U.S. regulators announced extra inspections and Japan suspended their use while considering further action.

The moves involving Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines came after a United Airlines 777 landed safely in Denver on Saturday local time after its right engine failed.

United said the next day it would voluntarily and temporarily remove its 24 active planes, hours before Boeing’s announcement.

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Boeing said 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The manufacturer recommended airlines suspend operations until U.S. regulators identified the appropriate inspection protocol.

The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older and less fuel efficient than newer models and most operators are phasing them out of their fleets.

Images posted by police in Broomfield, Colorado showed significant plane debris on the ground, including an engine cowling from the 26-year-old plane scattered outside a home.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said its initial examination of the plane indicated most of the damage was confined to the right engine, with only minor damage to the airplane.

It said the inlet and casing separated from the engine and two fan blades were fractured, while the remainder of the fan blades exhibited damage.

Japan’s transport ministry ordered Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and ANA Holdings Inc to suspend the use of 777s with PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures.

The ministry said that on Dec. 4, 2020, a JAL flight from Naha Airport to Tokyo returned to Naha due to a malfunction in the left engine.

Japan Transport Safety Board said on Dec. 28 that it had found two of the left engine’s fan blades were damaged, one from a fatigue fracture. The investigation is ongoing.

United is the only U.S. operator of the planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The other airlines using them are in Japan and South Korea, the U.S. agency said.

“We reviewed all available safety data,” the FAA said in a statement.

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