• United-Airlines-Boeing-777-300(ER)--1

    United Airlines

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    UA/UAL

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub(s):
    Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Guam International Airport, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport

    Year Founded:
    1931

    Alliance:
    Star Alliance

    CEO:
    Scott Kirby

    Country:
    United States

A United Airlines flight returned to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) shortly after departure following sparks and visible debris emissions. Flight number UAL149 was bound for São Paulo International Airport (GRU) when on its climb out, the incident occurred. After the incident, the aircraft continued its climb before entering a holding pattern over the Atlantic Ocean. From there, it made its approach back into EWR, where it made a safe landing. The flight departed EWR at 23:24 local time on Wednesday, September 21st. It returned approximately an hour and a half later, at 01:00 on September 22nd.

Mechanical failure

The aircraft in question was a Boeing 777-200 registered N787UA. It is unclear what portion of the plane expelled the sparks and debris. The event was recorded by a plane spotter that witnessed it on the ground. In the video, sparks are emitted from the aircraft, and falling debris is visible. Based on the video, it is difficult to say whether the sparks came from an engine or another part of the aircraft.

United Airlines has told Simple Flying that the 256 passengers onboard will be rerouted on other aircraft. It has also stated that the aircraft mechanics have found an issue with the hydraulic pump. A spokesperson for United said,

“After our aircraft experienced a mechanical issue shortly after takeoff, it remained in the air to burn fuel and then landed safely. Passengers deplaned at the gate and a new aircraft is scheduled to depart this morning.”

United Flight Holding Pattern Grounded fleet

Earlier this week, 25 United Airlines 777-200s similar to this one were grounded by the airline because the slats on the leading edge of the wings had not been inspected as they should have. On Tuesday, United announced that 10 of these aircraft had been inspected and were cleared to fly. This aircraft was not among them. According to FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft has been flying its long-haul international routes as scheduled with little delay until late last night.

United Airlines Boeing 777-200 In Frankfurt Airport

United has grounded it’s 777s twice this year. Photo: Getty Images

In April, The airline grounded 24 of its 777-200s that sported Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. The no-fly order came following an inspection of an aircraft incident that occurred near Denver in February 2021. The inspection found that two fan blades had been damaged inside one of the engines. Following the investigation’s findings released in April, all United aircraft using the same engines were grounded for a month. In May, they returned to the skies after having undergone thorough inspections.

Rough month for the 777

This latest incident marks the third precautionary flight diversion of a US-operated 777 in the past month. At the end of August, an American Airlines 777-300 en-route to London was diverted to Bermuda after the flight crew detected the smell of smoke. A week later, another American 777-300 also headed to London was diverted. This time the flight crew noticed fumes in the cabin and opted to make a precautionary landing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As frustrating as these diversions may be for travelers, they are done as a safety precaution to reduce the risk of catastrophe.

What do you think of this incident? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: FOX 5 NY, Flight Radar 24

Source: simpleflying.com

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