The damaged starboard engine of United Airlines Flight 328, a Boeing 777-200, is seen following an engine failure incident February 20, in a hangar at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, United States, February 22, 2021.
National Transportation Safety Board | via Reuters
United Airlines does not expect to fly dozens of Boeing 777s, grounded more than a year ago after one suffered engine failure, until at least mid-May . The airline had recently expected at least some of the planes to return to service this month.
The further delay in returning planes is a challenge for United as it seeks to transport as many travelers as possible during what airline executives expect to be a busy spring travel season, including a resurgence in international travel. . The jets are among the biggest in United’s fleet.
“Due to the delay in the return of our PW777 aircraft to active duty, the May flight schedule is being reconfigured to accommodate the lack of these aircraft,” United said in a memo sent to pilots on Friday and viewed by CNBC.
In February 2021, one of United’s 777-200s bound for Honolulu from Denver suffered an engine failure, dropping debris in a residential area before returning to Denver’s main airport. No injuries were reported.
United has 52 Boeing 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines. They “are removed from the program until May 12 and removed from international/Hawaii routes until May 25,” United said in the memo.
The Federal Aviation Administration released safety guidelines last month to increase fan blade inspections on these engines. These guidelines come into effect on April 15.
“We continue to work diligently with Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and the FAA to safely return these aircraft to service soon, and our current plan will see them return in the second half of May,” United said in a statement.
Boeing and Raytheon Technologies, parent company of Pratt & Whitney, did not immediately comment.