The Federal Aviation Administration said late Sunday it was ordering immediate inspections of Boeing Co. 777 aircraft equipped with the type of engine that broke apart in the air and scattered debris over a Colorado town over the weekend.
“This will likely mean some airplanes will be removed from service,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.
The move comes as safety investigators in the U.S. are looking into why the Pratt & Whitney-made engine of a Boeing 777-200 jet operated by United Airlines Holdings Inc. failed shortly after the Honolulu-bound flight with 241 people aboard took off Saturday, forcing the plane to return to the airport.
“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” Mr. Dickson said. “Based on the initial information, we 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.”
United is the only airline in the U.S. affected by the order, the FAA said. The carrier said it was temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 series engines from its schedules, but said it expected only a small number of customers to be impacted as it swapped out aircraft. It has 28 additional Boeing 777 aircraft with this engine type, but they are in storage.