United flight lands safely after engine failure sends debris near Denver

By Allen Cone
Debris from a United Airlines Boeing 777 landed by a home in Broomfield, Colo.. Photo courtesy Broomfield Police Department/Facebook
1 of 2 | Debris from a United Airlines Boeing 777 landed by a home in Broomfield, Colo.. Photo courtesy Broomfield Police Department/Facebook

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 jet with 241 people aboard landed safely with no injuries at Denver International Airport after engine failure caused debris to fall Saturday afternoon about 25 miles away.

United Flight 328 bound for Honolulu experienced "a right-engine failure shortly after takeoff," around 1 p.m. MST, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement.


The 231 passengers and 10 crew members departed from the two-engine plane on a runway and took buses to the terminal, the FAA said in a report by KMGH TV.

Pilots told air traffic controllers "we've experienced engine failure" and issued a mayday call, according communications obtained by CNN.

About 25 miles north in Broomfield, the police department posted on Twitter it received reports reports that an airplane had engine trouble and had "dropped debris in several neighborhoods around 1:08 p.m."


Reports said debris had fallen on soccer fields, homes and yards in the Denver suburb.

The debris was described as "possibly some exterior pieces of the plane," Rachel Welte of the Broomfield Police Department said at a news conference. She said she was surprised no one on the ground was injured.

"I'm honestly shocked looking at this debris field and how busy Commons Park is. This is a very popular spot in Broomfield. We have the dog park, we have the turf field, there's playgrounds," Welte said.

"This park on a day like today when it's not as cold like it was last weekend, we could have hundreds of people here. And the fact that we are still not getting reports of any injuries is absolutely shocking to me at this point."

The extent of property damage was unclear, according to North Metro Fire.

Aerial from KMGH's AirTracker7 shows a hole in the roof of a home. The homeowner told the station he was 2 feet away from the impact area making a sandwich.

"We saw it go over, we heard the big explosion, we looked up, there was black smoke in the sky," Kieran Cain, who was playing with his children at a local elementary school, told CNN.


"Debris started raining down, which you know, sort of looked like it was floating down and not very heavy, but actually now looking at it, it's giant metal pieces all over the place.

"I was surprised that the plane sort of continued on uninterrupted, without really altering its trajectory or doing anything," he said. "It just kind of kept going the way it was going as if nothing happened."

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, according to the FAA. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane was built in 1995 and has Pratt & Whitney engines.

Police said the NTSB "wants all debris to remain in place for investigation" and urged people not to touch or move the items.

A photo by Heyden Smith provided to KGMH shows smoke coming from aircraft's exposed right engine.

United Airlines officials are working to schedule passengers on a new flight to Honolulu.

"I heard this loud rumble, and I thought it was a military aircraft because it was really, really loud. It came right over the house and you could see that the right engine was on fire," an Arvada man told KMGH.

Travis Loock, a passenger on United Flight 328, described the ordeal to CNN about 20 minutes into the flight and had reached 20,000 feet.C


"There was a big boom and the kind of sound you don't want to hear when you're on the airplane," Loock, who was flying with his wife. "And I instantly put my shade up, and I was pretty frightened to see that the, the engine on my side was missing.

"We were just glad we weren't over the ocean, because that's where we were heading."

He added: "A lot of people couldn't see the engine on that side, right, so I was a little more freaked out because I could see it, and I knew that was not right,."

After the plane landed safely, people cheered.

"We're having a cocktail," Loock said. "And, yeah, we're going to try it again. We're going to try it again. The odds are with us this time."

America's worst aviation disaster 41 years ago involved a jet engine falling off.

On May 27,1979, one of the three engines of an American Airlines DC-10 taking off from O'Hare International Airport bound for Los Angeles fell off and landed on the runway.

The plane rolled over in the air and plunged to ground less than a mile from the runway in Elk Grove Village, killing all 271 aboard and two on the ground.


The separate engine severed hydraulic fluid lines that lock the wing's leading-edge slats in place and damaged a 3-foot section of the left wing's leading edge.

The 777-200 made its maiden flight on June 12, 1994, and United Airlines was the first carrier to fly the plane a year later.

The first fatal crash involving a 777-200 was less than a year earlier on July 6, 2013. Asiana Airlines Flight 214, en route from Seoul, South Korea, crashed on the runway at San Francisco International Airport. The tail section broke off striking the seawall short of the runway with 3 of the 307 onboard dying and 187 injured, including 49 seriously. An NTSB investigation concluded the flight crew's improper approach.

On March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines disappeared while flying to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Several pieces of marine debris confirmed to be from the aircraft washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean in 2015 and 2016.

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