The head of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has directed “immediate or stepped-up” inspections of all Boeing 777 aircraft equipped with Pratt and Whitney PW4000 engines. The directive comes as airlines begin to ground the aircraft in the wake of Saturday’s dramatic engine failure over Colorado, including United Airlines, the only affected US carrier, who have grounded 24 aircraft.

“We concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow blade fans that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.”

Steve Dickson, Administrator, FAA

Boeing has just issued a statement, saying that the company is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328.

“While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.”

Boeing

The directive comes just hours after the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau grounded all of the PW4000-equipped aircraft, affecting a total of 32 aircraft split between All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

A spokesperson for ANA told SamChui.com that “while the details of the affected flights beyond today are still being confirmed, the only applicable ones are the domestic flights within Japan”. In the meanwhile, ANA will use Boeing 787-9 aircraft to replace the B777-200’s operations. The only flight affected on Sunday was a return service from Tokyo (Haneda) to Okinawa.

The affected B777s are currently only being flown in the United States, South Korea and Japan, most of which is confined to be domestic operations. Mr Dickson said that the FAA continues to discuss the issue with their international counterparts, as well as Boeing and Pratt and Whitney, to resolve the issue.

An official FAA Airworthiness Directive will be issued shortly. This article will be updated with the relevant details.

Feature Image: Hayden Smith (@speedbird5280 on Instagram)