On 21st September, a United Airlines Boeing 777 was forced to return to Newark after sparks and debris started to fall from the hydraulic system while the aircraft was climbing out of Newark.

The Boeing 777-200 with registration N787UA was performing flight UA149 from Newark to Sao Paulo. However, while the aircraft was climbing out of Newark, the crew detected the sparks evolving from the hydraulic system. The pilots entered a holding pattern about 70 NM southwest of New York, dumped fuel and landed safely 1 hour and 30 minutes after departure.

The aircraft returned safely to Newark following the technical issue related to its hydraulics. The flight was cancelled and passengers were rebooked onto alternative flights. Footage shared on social media shows the emitted sparks.

“After our aircraft experienced a mechanical issue shortly after takeoff, it remained in the air to burn fuel and then landed safely. Passengers deplaned at the gate and a new aircraft is scheduled to depart this morning.”

United Airlines spokesperson

United Boeing 777 Grounding and Flight Cancellation

United Airlines reportedly canceled some of its flights this week to perform inspections on the wing slats of some of its Boeing 777-200s.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that United had failed to perform required inspections of the leading edge slats on many of its 777s. United grounded 25 of its Boeing 777s to comply with the FAA inspection requirements.

United said Tuesday that it had already completed inspections for 10 of its Boeing 777-200 jets and has been working with the FAA to return the remaining jets to service.

“We’ve completed inspections on 10 of those aircraft, and are working with the FAA to return others to service while inspections are ongoing over the next two weeks.” 

United AIrlines spokesperson

The aircraft maintenance team at United discovered the problem in an audit and reported it to the FAA. Following the grounding, about 18 flights, mostly long-haul international flights, were canceled. 

United’s Pratt & Whitney PW4000 powered 777-200 fleet has only recently returned to service after being grounded for over a year due to a problem with the aircraft’s external engine covers. 

However, the wing panel inspection wasn’t related to the engine cover issues, but rather a routine maintenance matter discovered by the airline’s team. The inspections will examine the area of the wing where slats extend during take-off and landing to generate lift.