A United Airlines airline suffered a burning engine failure Saturday after taking off from Denver to Hawaii and dropping massive debris on a residential area before a safe emergency landing, officials said.
A video shot from inside the plane – which had 231 passengers and 10 crew on board – showed that the right engine burned and staggered on the wing of the Boeing 777-200, and its protection was completely missing when the plane flew over a barren landscape.
There were no injuries on the plane or on the ground, authorities said.
WORLD AIRCRAFT: This was the view from United Airlines Flight 328 after an engine exploded shortly after takeoff from Denver. The plane could safely land back in Denver and no one was injured.
Courtesy: Chad Schnell via Storyful pic.twitter.com/dINeu1YcWO
– 8 News NOW (@ 8NewsNow) February 21, 2021
“I can honestly say I thought we were going to die at some point – because we started dropping height shortly after the explosion,” passenger David Delucia told the Denver Post.
“I grabbed my wife’s hand and said, ‘We’re done. “
Delucia said his stepdaughter tweeted the online video, which was shot by another passenger.
“Flight UA328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after takeoff, returned safely to Denver and was met by rescue personnel as a precaution,” United Airlines said in a statement.
“The majority of customers who were originally on UA328 are currently on their way to Honolulu on a new flight,” it added, adding that those who did not want to travel had been given hotel accommodation immediately.
In a recording of the emergency call from the LiveATC website, which broadcasts air traffic communications, the pilot requested an emergency permit to return to Denver.
“Three twenty-eight, uh, heavy. We’ve experienced engine failure, have to turn. Mayday, mayday,” he said without obvious panic in his voice.
“Mayday, plane, uh, just experienced engine failure,” he said, after the tower asked him to repeat. “Need a ride immediately.”
Meanwhile, residents of the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large sections of the plane scattered around their community, including a giant circular piece of metal that landed on Kirby Klements’ farm.
“It was a little overwhelming,” he told CNN.
“It landed squarely on top of my truck and fell off,” he said, reporting that a separate large piece of debris had made a 1.5-meter hole in the neighbor’s roof.
Fortunately, no one was injured when debris from part of a United Airlines plane that exploded landed in a Broomfield neighborhood this afternoon. The aircraft certainly reached an emergency landing at DIA. See more photos from the ground and the air at https://t.co/62ec5mVBIK pic.twitter.com/IRM16EF3Zg
– CBSDenver (@CBSDenver) February 21, 2021
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was “aware of reports of debris near the aircraft’s runway” and added that the agency and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate the incident.
“If you find rubbish, do not touch it or move it. @NTSB wants all rubbish to remain in place for investigation,” Bloomfield police tweeted.
It published images of debris scattered across a sports field in a park, including part of the plane with a warning message painted in red: “Avoid risk areas while the engine is running.”
United said it would “continue to work with federal authorities investigating this incident.”
Heather Solar ran an exercise in the park for her girls’ soccer team when she said she heard an explosion after debris rained down.
“Honestly, what I thought was first … I thought we were bombed,” Solar told the Denver Post. “There was so much rubbish in the sky.”