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United Airlines Passengers on Engine-failing Plane File Lawsuits

— April 29, 2021

Two airline passengers who were on a flight that made an emergency landing have filed lawsuits.

Two United Airlines passengers who were aboard a Boeing 777 flight in February that had to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew apart have filed lawsuits against the airline.  The passengers, who were among the 229 onboard with ten crew members, claim they suffered “personal, emotional and financial injuries.”

The plane was scheduled to go to Honolulu, and passengers said they worried they would endure a crash landing after witnessing the engine’s explosion.  People who were on the ground at the time saw chunks of debris drop from the plane with one crushing a truck and other pieces being scattered along lawns and a soccer field.  Luckily, no injuries were reported.

“As the plane was reaching an altitude of 12,500 feet, the crew and passengers heard a loud bang and felt the plane vibrate,” according to investigators.  A video of the incident was posted on Twitter.

United Airlines Passengers on Engine-failing Plane File Lawsuits
Photo by Ishak Ahmed on Unsplash

“Imagine as a passenger looking out the window of a plane and helplessly watching the engine on fire.  The terror you experience lasts a lifetime,” Chicago attorney Robert A. Clifford said.  His law firm is also representing families of 72 of the passengers who perished in a Boeing 737 MAX flight that crashed in Ethiopia two years ago.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that their initial examination supports that wear and tear caused a fan blade to snap, but the agency is still investigating.  Boeing had suspended the operation of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s using the same engines at the time of the incident.

Pratt & Whitney, the engine manufacturer, released a statement at the time saying, “Safety is our top priority…Pratt & Whitney is actively coordinating with operators and regulators to support the revised inspection interval of the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines that power Boeing 777 aircraft.  Any further investigative updates regarding this event will be at the discretion of the NTSB.  Pratt & Whitney will continue to work to ensure the safe operation of the fleet.”

“The general issue is controllability,” explained Doug Moss, a retired test pilot and retired captain at United Airlines, of the difficulty of flying a plane experiencing engine failure.  Moss added, “It’s a skill set.  You have to use a lot of muscle memory.  It’s like dribbling a basketball. You have to do it a couple of hundred times before you get it.”

“We spend a lot of time in single-engine training,” agreed R.D. Johnson, a former fighter pilot and retired American Airlines captain who now flies corporate jets. “It’s pretty innate for an experienced pilot.”

“The overall system is designed with the knowledge that man-made components are going to fail occasionally,” said Clint Balog, an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, of airplanes in general.

Each of the lawsuits pertaining to the Boeing 777 engine failure are seeking a judgment of more than $50,000 along with other damages.


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