United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks: sources

FILE PHOTO: The damaged starboard engine of United Airlines flight 328, a Boeing 777-200, is seen following a Feb. 20 engine failure incident, in a hangar at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, U.S. February 22, 2021. National Transportation Safety Board/Handout via REUTERS.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A United Airlines plane with a Pratt & Whitney engine that failed on Saturday had flown fewer than half the flights allowed by U.S. regulators between fan blade inspections, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The Boeing Co 777 plane had flown nearly 3,000 cycles, equivalent to one take-off and landing, which compares to the checks every 6,500 cycles mandated after a separate United engine incident in 2018, said the sources.

They sought anonymity as they were not authorised to speak publicly.

Pratt, the maker of the PW4000 engines, advised airlines on Monday to step up checks to every 1,000 cycles, in a bulletin seen by Reuters. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was ordering immediate inspections of 777 planes with PW4000 engines before a return to flight, going further than Pratt.

Japan and South Korea have also grounded the planes for fan blade checks.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; writing by Jamie Freed

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