What's the impact on India as Boeing 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines are grounded
According to an AFP report, Boeing confirmed February 22 that dozens of its 777 aircraft were grounded worldwide, while Britain announced a temporary ban on those jets following a weekend scare involving a United Airlines plane in Colorado. The incident on the flight out of Denver -- which quickly returned to the airport after part of the engine caught fire and broke off -- prompted United and other airlines to ground the planes with the same Pratt & Whitney engine.
Setback for Boeing
While no one was injured in the Denver incident, the episode is the latest setback for Boeing, which only recently resumed deliveries of the long-grounded 737 MAX following two fatal crashes of that plane. "It's nothing like the MAX," said Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia. "After all these years of service it is unlikely to be a design issue with the engine, certainly it is something to do with maintenance." Boeing said all 128 of the 777 models with Pratt & Whitney engines were grounded.
Impact on India
According to a report by TOI’s Saurabh Sinha, Air India’s Boeing 777s — the backbone of the Maharaja’s long and ultra long haul nonstops to North America — have not been impacted by US aviation regulator’s directive to check B777s with Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines. The AI B777s have General Electric (GE) engines. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has, however, asked AI to be “more vigilant during ground checks (of these engines) as a precautionary measure.”
AI has 3 B777-200 long range (LR) and 13 B777-300 extended range (ER) aircraft in its fleet. Two B777 ERs of Air India have recently been converted into VVIP aircraft for use by the president, vice-president and prime minister, replacing the over 25-year-old B747 jumbo jets that were used for VVIP flights so far. All the AI B777s have GE engines. “Air India has three B777 LRs with GE 90-110 series engines and 13 B777 ERs with GE 90-115 series engines. AI does not operate B777 with PW engines. While as of now there is no need to take any step on these aircraft types, we (are telling) AI to be more vigilant during ground checks as a precautionary measure,” a senior DGCA official said.
How it all began
Last Saturday, a United Airlines’ B777 with PW engines operating from Denver to Honolulu had experienced a right engine failure shortly after takeoff. Debris from the engine was scattered over nearby residential areas as the aircraft returned to Denver. It had landed safely and no one on board was injured. A video shot from inside the United aircraft -- which had 229 passengers and 10 crew on board -- showed the right engine ablaze and wobbling on the wing of the Boeing 777-200. Michel Merluzeau, an expert at consultancy AIR, agreed the latest problem did not appear to result from poor plane design by the aerospace giant. "It's not really a problem for Boeing," he said. "It's more an issue of maintenance -- how United or Pratt & Whitney is maintaining engines that have been in use for a while."