Following engine fire, Hawaii-bound United 777 rains debris on Denver suburbs

Feb 20, 2021

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It was likely a scary day for 231 passengers and 10 crew members on board a United Airlines 777-200 to Hawaii — and for countless Coloradans on the ground.

United flight 328 was just minutes into its flight from Denver (DEN) to Honolulu (HNL) when the Number 2 engine, located on the starboard side of the aircraft, appeared to have caught fire.

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As you can see from the video above, the engine remained on fire for at least several seconds, with the cowling completely blown off. One component was quickly identified on the front yard of a local home — fortunately, no injuries have been reported.

More debris was identified in Broomfield County Commons Park, roughly 30 miles from Denver International Airport.

Colorado local Hayden Smith photographed the aircraft from the ground, before its safe return to DEN.

Photo courtesy of Hayden Smith.

United Airlines quickly confirmed the incident, issuing the following statement:

Flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departure, returned safely to Denver and was met by emergency crews as a precaution. There are no reported injuries onboard, and we will share more information as it becomes available.

The airline followed up with another statement later this afternoon, adding:

United flight 328 experienced an engine failure and safely returned to Denver. We are in contact with the FAA, NTSB and local law enforcement. The NTSB is investigating and has directed that any persons with debris from this event contact their local law enforcement agency. All passengers and crew have deplaned and been transported back to the terminal in DEN. We are now working to get our customers on a new flight to Honolulu in the next few hours.

The aircraft in question is N772UA, a 25-year-old Boeing 777-200 configured for domestic and regional flights, with 28 lie-flat seats in business class, 102 Economy Plus seats and 234 seats in coach.

The plane has operated a handful of seemingly uneventful flights over the past week, including a roughly 3-hour hop from Chicago (ORD) to Denver earlier today.

Notably, another Hawaii-bound United 777-200 experienced similar engine trouble just over three years ago. The NTSB, which will soon investigate this incident, determined that the February 2018 issue was caused by a broken engine fan blade.

It’ll likely be weeks or even months before we know exactly what caused flight 328’s engine failure. While it was surely an emotional experience for some onboard, fortunately, nobody has been reported physically injured either on the plane or on the ground.

Featured photo courtesy of Hayden Smith.

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