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FAA to Step Up Inspections of Certain Boeing Jets After Engine Failed

The Boeing 777 aircraft operated by United landed safely with no reported injuries.
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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an emergency airworthiness directive requiring "immediate or stepped-up inspections" of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with some Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, following  engine failure on a Boeing  (BA) jet that was operated by United Airlines  (UAL)  over the weekend. The jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver Saturday, reportedly leaving a trail of black smoke and debris over a Colorado suburb.

Pratt & Whitney's owner Raytheon  (RTX)  did not respond to a request for comment earlier Sunday, saying only it was passing questions along to its subsidiary.

"This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service," said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in a statement on Sunday night. "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." 

The FAA said its aviation safety experts were meeting with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to "finalize the details of the Airworthiness Directive" and any accompanying service bulletins to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included in the order.

The Boeing 777-200 jet was heading to Hawaii when it had to return to Denver International Airport after its right engine failed shortly after takeoff, according to the FAA.

The jet landed safely, and no one was injured, but broken parts fell from the sky over the area.

Video posted to Twitter and on the Associated Press shows clouds of black smoke in the sky. Police in Broomfield, Col., said over Twitter they got reports of objects that fell from the aircraft. 

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"The FAA is aware of reports of debris in the vicinity of the airplane’s flight path," said the federal administration in statement issued on Saturday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the accident.

The United Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu when the engine failed.

"We are pleased to hear that United Airlines flight 328 returned safely to Denver. Boeing technical advisers are supporting the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board with its investigation," said Boeing in a statement earlier.

United said in a statement that it had ensured those aboard the jet "were comfortable and cared for at Denver International Airport" and prepared another aircraft to get them to Honolulu. 

The 777-200 jets use engines by either General Electric  (GE)  or Pratt & Whitney  (RTX) , according to United's page on the aircraft

The FAA says airlines in three countries operate airplanes with the affected engines — the U.S, Japan, and South Korea, and United Airlines is the only U.S. operator with this type of engine in its fleet. 

This story has been updated and the manufacturer of the engines used has been corrected.