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The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday proposed fixes to prevent engine coverings from breaking apart on certain Boeing Co. 777 aircraft, as they did in a series of incidents including on a United Airlines jet over Colorado earlier this year.
The proposed changes, which would allow the aircraft to return to service, are aimed at strengthening engine covers to prevent plane parts from detaching midair and striking aircraft or falling to the ground.
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That is what happened when a United 777’s engine failed shortly after takeoff from Denver in February: Its external cover, damaged by a broken fan blade, broke apart and metal components fell into yards in a nearby suburb. No one was injured and the flight landed safely.
The subset of Boeing 777 jets powered by Pratt & Whitney engines were effectively grounded after that episode. The FAA ordered immediate inspections of the engine fan blades for cracks that could lead to more potential failures.
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The FAA on Wednesday also proposed an enhanced inspection protocol for the fan blades used in the engines and other components, with specific corrective actions depending on the results. Pratt & Whitney, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. , said in a written statement that such inspections are already under way.