FAA working 'nonstop' on Boeing 777's engine failure probe

Photo: AFP/ Getty Images Debris fallen from a United Airlines airplane's Boeing engine on the neighborhood of Broomfield, outside Denver, Colorado, on Saturday.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson said Tuesday the agency is doing everything possible to finalise a new emergency airworthiness directive that will require stepped-up inspections of all Boeing 777-200 airplanes with Pratt & Whitney PW400 engines. This step is being taken after a massive engine failure on a United Airlines flight.

The agency announced Sunday it would soon issue a directive, while United said it would ground its fleet of 777s with the engine in question pending the FAA directive.

“We have been working on this nonstop since Saturday afternoon and I am confident that we will get it right,” Dickson said. “We want to understand what happened and then take the necessary steps to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”

As we remind, the frightening engine failure on a United Airlines flight out of Denver on Saturday rained aircraft parts onto a suburban neighborhood. Fortunately, no one on the ground was injured and the plane was able to land with no injuries. But the vivid videos shot by passengers of the burning remains of the engine and news photos of holes in residents' roofs and huge pieces of the plane in front yards certainly brought Boeing a lot of unneeded attention.

It's the latest in a list of problems for various Boeing twin-aisle models - and the lucrative widebody jet business is important for the company, because that's where it holds the clear lead over rival Airbus, which is first in single-aisle jet sales. In fact, the latest 777 grounding may be the least serious of Boeing's widebody problems, even if the headlines say otherwise.

As BBC outlines, part of the underlying, ongoing challenge in this realm is the pandemic. Twin-aisle planes most often fly international routes, and international travel will likely be severely hampered long after domestic travel rebounds as governments around the globe impose new Covid testing and quarantine restrictions on passengers taking cross-border flights.

And even before the pandemic and the 737 Max grounding, Boeing has lagged in the single-aisle plane market.

Rival Airbus has more sales in that part of the market - along with a shiny new long-range single-aisle plane for which Boeing does not have a competitor.

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