The latest in a string of aircraft engine malfunctions has shed light on Pratt & Whitney, the historic Connecticut aerospace product.
The company’s products were involved in two episodes over the weekend, when the engines failed during the flight, spilling debris on populated areas of Colorado and the Netherlands. In December, a Pratt & Whitney engine malfunction forced Japan Airlines to turn around immediately after taking off from Okinawa.
The episodes involving Boeing planes all ended in safe landings. Was it too early to say whether they were connected? But they were prompted by airlines around the world, raising questions about what was wrong.
“What do you miss?” Is it an inspection cycle? Do they perform proper type checks? Are there any similarities between the three failures? “These are things that investigators are going to look at right now,” said John Cox, chief of The Security Operations Aviation Consulting.
For nearly a century, Pratt & Whitney has been at the forefront of the US aircraft industry. In addition to having huge contracts with civilian airlines, it has supplied engines to the military for decades, including those used in World War II.
Last year, United Technologies, of which Pratt & Whitney was a part, merged with Raytheon to form Raytheon Technologies. In terms of revenue, Pratt & Whitney is the second largest share of the new Raytheon, with sales of $ 16.8 billion, or about 30% of the total.
Pratt & Whitney, based in East Hartford, Connecticut, said Monday it was working with regulators to step up inspections of engines used to power Boeing 777s. It declined to comment in response to inquiries.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into an incident around Colorado on Saturday when the right engine of a United Airlines flight to Hawaii exploded before landing safely in Denver. Like the December flight to Japan in Aponia, the United episode involved the 777 with a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine.
The incident in the Netherlands on Saturday involved the engine of a 747-400 truck in the same Pratt & Whitney series, but the European Aviation Authority said on Monday that the special model was different from the Colorado ադ Japan aponia.
“At this stage, there are no similarities between the root causes of the failures,” said a statement from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Following the failure of the United Flight Engine, the Japan Aviation Authority ordered airlines there to suspend flights on the same 777 aircraft with similar equipment. The US Federal Aviation Administration has announced that it will need to upgrade aircraft with these engines. And Boeing has called for the landing of 69-engine aircraft currently operating around the world with an engine model.
In a briefing with reporters on Monday evening, NTSB President Robert L. Sumwalt said two of the 22 fans of the United plane engine were found broken. One blade was embedded in a part of the engine, and the other was found on a football field in Brumfield, Colorado. One of the blades showed that the damage corresponded to “metal fatigue” and was taken to a Pratt & Whitney lab for inspection by NTSB investigators, he said. The agency evaluates the aircraft maintenance records, the information from the flight data recorder, the cockpit recorder.
“Our mission is to understand not only what happened, but why it happened so that we can avoid it happening again,” Sumualt said.
Last month, the Aponia’s Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism concluded that the engine failure in December was due to metal fatigue in the fan blades. A preliminary examination of the combined flight revealed that the two parts were separated from the engine, and that both fan blades were also broken, according to the NTSB.
“I was saddened to hear that one of the fan blades failed, but I was really impressed with how everything worked after that,” said Robert Kilb, a professor at Duke University School of Engineering. “If the blade fails, the planes are designed to fly with one engine.”
When those engines were flying in the 777s now standing on the ground, Kilb said Pratt needed to take a closer look. “They probably need to check the fan blades better,” he said.
Of concern was the fact that the bait, the circular piece of the front of the engine, fell out of fear.
Previously broken fan blades have resulted in fatal accidents. In 1989, a Boeing 737 crashed near Cagworth, England, killing 47 people. After a fan blade broke in one of CFM International’s engines, the pilots accidentally turned off the other engine.
In February 2018, during the flight of “United” over the Pacific Ocean, the blade of the engine fan broke, as a result of which the engine failed and was lost. Like last weekend’s flight, the aircraft was a Boeing 777 with a PW4077 engine. The pilots were able to land the plane in Hawaii without injuring 374 passengers and crew.
After investigating the incident, the NTSB blamed Pratt & Whitney, saying one of its inspectors did not have the training needed to detect signs of a faulty blade, which resulted in a “mouth-to-mouth return to service where it eventually broke.” : In 2019, the FAA ordered further inspections of these engines with fan blades.
The agency recently inspected a fragment of a Japanese flight fan blade to discuss whether to adjust component tests.
When airlines buy new aircraft, they can usually choose which engine to use. Eric Ones, president of the Department of Aviation Science at Embry-Riddle Aviation University, says that in some cases they can even borrow engines from a bank.
“They are very interchangeable,” said ones ounce.
United became the first Boeing 777 customer in the 1990s and opted to equip the aircraft with a new Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine. All Nippon Airways, another early customer, also opted for this engine.
When a large airline owns an aircraft, it usually assumes responsibility for the routine maintenance and inspection of all parts of the aircraft. The pilots surround the aircraft before each flight, conducting visual inspections, including with the fan blades. Technicians inspect various systems. When an engine-like part needs deeper repair or inspection, it is often sent to a third party or the manufacturer for inspection.
“Boeing does not normally service the engine,” the company said in a statement Monday. “All decisions outside of the approved manuals are the responsibility of the operator and the engine manufacturer.”
It is not yet clear what caused the engine fire in the Netherlands, but Dutch authorities launched an investigation into the incident there on Saturday.
The airport said in a statement that the plane, a Boeing 747-400 cargo truck loaded with drugs և general cargo և operated by Longtail Aviation, was en route from Maastricht Aachen Airport to New York when air traffic control alerted the driver. to pilots.
The pilots landed at Liege Airport in Belgium instead of returning to Maastricht Aachen Airport, as the runway offered more space for a safe landing.
The wreckage fell on a residential area of Mersen City Hall, causing minor injuries to a woman and child, and “significant damage to roofs, windows and cars,” said Leon Emmelen, spokesman for the Regional Security Council. ,
Manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney do not make much money selling their engines, but long-term service contracts with airlines are a fat profit margin, say stock analysts.
“It’s a classic razor business,” said Burket Hui, an analyst with Raytheon Technologies.
The service business can be profitable, և service revenue can increase at the end of the engine life as more maintenance is needed. Huey said Pratt & Whitney և’s others do not usually disclose what part of their overall profit comes from maintenance.
Another airline incident occurred Monday afternoon when a Delta Air Lines-powered Boeing 757 flying from Atlanta to Seattle was diverted to Salt Lake City after pilots received a single-engine warning sign, the statement said. ,
The airline was cautious, saying Flight 2123, with 122 passengers and six crew members, deviated east-east to Idaho and headed south to Salt Lake City. The flight landed safely at around 4pm local time, an airport spokesman said.