Wednesday,  February 24, 2021  6:16 pm

Transport Canada mulling ban on Boeing 777s following engine fire

Transport Canada mulling ban on Boeing 777s following engine fire
Passenger video captures the engine fire that grounded United Airlines flight 328 at Denver International Airport on Feb. 20, 2021.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Transport Canada may consider banning some Boeing 777s from Canadian airspace, reports say.  

Canada’s regulators are reviewing their options following an incident on Saturday (Feb. 20) whereby an aircraft engine failed just minutes into United Airlines flight 328, headed from Colorado to Hawaii, resulting in a trail of falling debris.

The frightening and fiery episode, which was captured by passenger video, prompted Boeing to recommend grounding all of its 777s with a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine, which is being blamed for causing what could have been a catastrophic event.

According to a preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the failed engine was "consistent with metal fatigue,” reports say.

The damaged airplane made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport as the engine became engulfed in flames.

Fortunately, none of the 231 passengers or 10 crew on board were hurt, authorities said.


United and other airlines in Japan and South Korea that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine have since grounded their Boeing 777 aircraft.

The United Kingdom, too, has also temporarily barred some Boeing 777s using that same engine model from its airspace.

Here in Canada, regulators are reportedly waiting to see what investigators find until it makes a final decision on the matter.

“Transport Canada aviation safety experts are monitoring the situation and the U.S. NTSB investigation closely. Should any safety issues be identified, the department will not hesitate to take immediate action and ground the Boeing 777 aircraft from Canadian airspace, if necessary,” the agency told CTV News on Monday (Feb. 23).

Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NTSB are investigating the eye-popping incident, which caused engine pieces to rain from the sky and fall into a suburban neighbourhood.

In a statement posted by U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson on Feb. 21, inspectors, based on an initial review, "concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes."

Canadian airlines in the clear  

None of Canada’s own airlines operate Boeing 777 aircraft using the Pratt & Whitney PW4000-112 engines, according to registry data.

According to its website, Air Canada has 25 Boeing 777s, but these are said to use engine made by General Electric.

WestJet, Sunwing, or Air Transat do not have any Boeing 777s in their fleets, according to each airline’s website.

Saturday’s engine incident is yet another blow for Boeing after its 737 MAX aircraft was grounded worldwide nearly two years ago following two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians.

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