United flight sheds debris over Colorado after engine failure

  • >>Christopher Mele, The New York Times
    Published: 2021-02-21 20:15:04 BdST

A United Airlines flight with 241 people on board experienced engine failure over a suburb of Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday afternoon, shedding debris across three neighbourhoods before landing safely in Denver, authorities said. There were no injuries reported.

The flight, No. 328, took off from Denver International Airport at 12:15 p.m. local time, said Alex Renteria, an airport spokesperson.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the plane, a Boeing 777-200, experienced “a right-engine failure” shortly after takeoff and that the FAA was aware of reports of debris “in the vicinity of the airplane’s flight path.”

The flight was headed from Denver to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu when the episode happened.

David Gonzalez, a representative for United, said the flight had 231 passengers and 10 crew members on board. The flight was met by emergency responders as a precaution when it returned to Denver.

He said all passengers and crew members had left the plane and had been taken to an airport terminal. “We are now working to get our customers on a new flight to Honolulu in the next few hours,” he said.

General view of plane debris in Broomfield, Colorado, U.S., February 20, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. BROOMFIELD POLICE via REUTERS

General view of plane debris in Broomfield, Colorado, U.S., February 20, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. BROOMFIELD POLICE via REUTERS

Police in Broomfield, Colorado, which is about 15 miles southeast of Boulder, said unspecified pieces of the plane fell across three neighbourhoods around 1:08 p.m. local time.

A video on Twitter showed an engine that was on fire and was missing parts of its casing.

Rebecca Schulte, a resident, said she saw two pieces that fell just a few houses away from her home. She described hearing a “mild sound” that she compared to an empty dump truck going over a pothole and then she heard sirens.

When she investigated further, she said, she found a “large metal ring” that had landed on the front steps of a nearby home, striking the handrail. “How it missed the house is beyond me,” she said. She said the metal ring was about 10 feet across.

In a video on Twitter, passengers can be heard cheering as the plane safely landed.

The plane was a different model from the Boeing 737 Max, which returned to the skies late last year after being grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes.

©2021 The New York Times Company