Published date: 24 February 2021

New Zealand’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has followed other international regulators and placed a temporary ban on some Boeing 777 aircraft from operating in New Zealand airspace.

This follows the recent engine failure of a United Airlines Boeing 777 equipped with a Pratt and Whitney 4000 series engine, while flying over Denver, USA on 20 February 2021. No one was injured in the incident and the aircraft landed safely.

United Airlines has already grounded their affected aircraft.

“We are issuing a NOTAM[i] today which effectively prevents this aircraft type from landing or taking off within New Zealand domestic airspace or transiting through it," said Dean Winter, CAA’s Deputy Chief Executive Aviation Safety.

“We are taking this action out of an abundance of caution to prevent any potential threat to people or property should another engine experience a similar fan blade failure like the incident in Denver," he said.

“We have quickly joined the aviation regulators in the United Kingdom and Japan in taking this action. We also note Boeing has recommended the suspension of all 777 with the affected engines until the cause of this failure is known. We anticipate that an emergency airworthiness directive will be issued by the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration to further clarify and take action on this situation.”

There are no Boeing 777 with the 4000 series Pratt and Whitney engines operated by any New Zealand-based airlines.

“We are quite satisfied that there is enough evidence to take this action in the interest of keeping New Zealand’s skies safe and secure,” Mr Winter said.

[i]  A “Notice to Airmen,” Official communication issued by an aviation authority to alert pilots and airline dispatchers of potential dangers in a flight route, or to changes in permitted flight routes.

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