EAST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney said it is working with federal investigators after debris fell from the sky during a harrowing flight above Colorado over the weekend.
The Nationals Transportation Safety Board held an update on its investigation shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday.
The investigation came after a Boeing 777, which is powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, experienced engine failure and had to make an emergency landing.
No one was injured, but Federal Aviation Administration investigators are trying to figure out what when wrong.
Investigators said the Pratt & Whitney engine of that plane exploded mid-air. Passengers reported hearing it. Two of the engine's fan blades fractured.
"We got to about 10,000 feet," said David Delucia, a passenger. "The captain came on and said that 'We're getting up to our cruising altitude.' And before he even got off the intercom, there was a loud explosion."
No one was injured on the ground. Neighbors near Denver International Airport in Colorado had to take shelter because of the raining debris.
"We heard another big bang and looked out our front window right as the engine cal rolled into the tree," said Kirby Klements, a Broomfield, CO resident.
The plane was able to make a safe return to the airport in Denver.
As a result of the incident, United Airlines said it temporarily grounded all of its Boeing 777 planes that were powered by the Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines, which are manufactured by the company.
Many of the 229 passengers on board prepared for the worst.
“All I kept thinking is, this couldn’t be my time,” said Karla Whichard, a passenger.
Pratt & Whitney issued a statement about the crash and investigation. It wrote “Pratt & Whitney is actively coordinating which operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval of the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines that power Boeing 777 aircrafts. Any further investigative updates regarding this event will be at the discretion of the NTSB.”
An open street map project contributor illustrated Flight 328’s pattern the plane left Denver International Airport just after 3 p.m. eastern time but circled back and landed 25 minutes after takeoff.
According to the NTSB, the inlet and cowlings separated from another PW-4000 on a United Airlines flight in Feb. 2018.
“The flight crew heard a loud bang that was followed by a violent shaking of the airplane that was followed by warnings of a compressor stall," the NTSB stated.
That flight landed safely in Hawaii.
Meanwhile Dutch officials are investigating problems with after another PW-4000 engine caught fire. That one on a Boeing cargo plane. Two crew members were injured. Luckily, no one was harmed by metal debris falling from the plane.
The NTSB said its analysis, including conclusions and probable cause, won’t be released until the final report is done.
No timeframe was provided.
United is the only U.S. airline that uses that specific Pratty & Whitney engine in its fleet.