Today, the afternoon of Feb. 20, United Airlines Flight 328 suffered an engine loss shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport while en route to Honolulu. The plane, a Boeing 777-200, has safely returned to the airport with no injuries to the 231 passengers and 10 crew—but boy, are the photos and videos terrifying.
Twitter user Luke (@lukeincanada) posted this video of the plane's right engine after the incident, showing severe damage and an active fire.
Commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 777 are designed to be able to fly with just one engine in case of events just like this one. Engine explosions, however, can damage the fuselage or wings of an aircraft, and those incidents can be fatal. In 2018, a woman on a Southwest flight died after an engine failure shattered her window; she was partially sucked out of the plane and succumbed to her injuries.
Another risk of major engine failure is debris falling onto populated areas, which could cause injuries and property damage. In the case of United 328, people on the ground caught video of debris from the engine falling onto the Denver suburb of Broomfield.
Twitter user Claire Armstrong (@BAREESTHETICSCO) was at her local dog park in the area when she reported hearing a loud bang—she filmed the following video showing what appears to be debris from United 328's damaged engine.
Other witnesses have reported similar experiences.
“While I was looking at [the plane], I saw an explosion and then the cloud of smoke and some debris falling from it. It was just like a speck in the sky and as I’m watching that, I’m telling my family what I just saw and then we heard the explosion,” area resident Tyler Thal told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “The plane just kind of continued on and we didn’t see it after that.”
The Broomfield Police Department has asked residents to look for and report any debris or injuries; it has posted several photos of debris to its Twitter account.
So far, no injuries on the ground have been reported—a miracle, considering the size of the debris.
The FAA issued a statement about the incident on Twitter, indicating that it will be working with the NTSB on an investigation.