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JAL retires 777 fleet with Pratt & Whitney engines after United incident

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Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) says it has retired its fleet of 13 Boeing Co 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines a year earlier than planned, having suspended operations in February after an engine on a United Airlines plane shed debris.

"JAL has decided to accelerate the retirement of all P&W equipped Boeing 777 by March 2021, which (was) originally planned by March 2022," the Japanese airline said in a notice on its website.

JAL said it would use newer Airbus SE A350s on domestic routes to Osaka's Itami Airport and use international planes for other domestic routes to help maintain flight frequencies.

Flying demand industry-wide is currently lower than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Japanese carrier had an incident of its own with the PW4000 engines in December, when a malfunction forced a Tokyo-bound JAL 777 to return to Naha airport.

The engines are found on only a small number of older 777s operated by JAL, United Airlines Holdings Inc, ANA Holdings Inc, Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, Asiana Airlines Inc and Jin Air Co Ltd.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in February had ordered immediate inspection of 777 planes with PW4000 engines before further flights after the National Transportation Safety Board found a cracked fan blade on the United flight was consistent with metal fatigue.

A spokeswoman for Pratt, owned by Raytheon Technologies Corp, in February said fan blades would need to be shipped to its repair station in East Hartford, Connecticut, for inspection, including those from airlines in Japan and South Korea.

Analysts had said airlines might speed up retirement of the planes as a result of the need for additional checks.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

2 Comments
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Can some of the geniuses making these decisions explain to me HOW these incidents are supposed to indicate an endemic engine problem after over a quarter century of excellent service life of the PW4000?

And if throwing a fan blade out is such a huge issue why is it NOT an endemic problem for most of the ANA B787 fleet to be GROUNDED CONTINUOUSLY for about 7 YEARS due to the utterly inoperable trash RR motors?

And while we are at it, anyone has any memory of the Southwest B737-700 a few years ago that threw a compressor blade into the cabin causing the death of a passenger? Why wasn't the GE CFM56 engine grounded along with the tens of thousands of aircraft that use it?

Guess what folks: after these three motor makers all you got left is the Russian and the stolen copy Chinese engines!

Why don't you put yourself and your loved ones into aircraft powered by those if you are so worried about the safety of the PW4000? Because other than those options NO BIG JET MOVES!

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Bruce, the PW4000-112 series engines are the highest thrust variant of that series of engines and are used only in the 777. That model engine has a history of fan blade failures. The FAA has increased the frequency of inspections of this series of engines however the most recent failure shows that even this higher frequency of inspections doesn't catch bad blades before they can fail. It is the only model of this engine with a history of multiple uncontained failures. Lower powered versions of the PW4000 series used in other aircraft do not have the same failure history the -112s have.

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