In a class action lawsuit filed in Colorado court two days ago, one of the passengers aboard United Airlines flight UA328 alleged emotional distress as a result of the high-profile engine failure. Plaintiff’s lawyer claims that the incident, which is strikingly similar to the one in 2018, could have been avoided if United had properly inspected the motor’s fan blades.
A passenger aboard the N772UA filed a class action lawsuit against United Airlines during the engine failure. Photo: InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr
It has hardly escaped anyone interested in aviation that a United Airlines Boeing 777 with the registration N772UA suffered a spectacular engine failure on February 20, shortly after taking off from Denver, Colorado.
The right Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine on the 777-200 caught fire, causing debris from the bonnet to spread across the suburbs, thankfully with no injury to life or limb. Fortunately, the plane landed safely without causing any damage to its 231 passengers or ten crew members.
Claims for foreseeable and severe hardship
That doesn’t mean no damage was done, however, according to a class action lawsuit filed by a passenger aboard flight UA328 in the U.S. District Court in Colorado on March 7. The plaintiff’s legal representation states in the file that the passengers had to “fear for their lives” for 20 minutes, which caused predictable and severe emotional distress.
Distress, lawyer Jonathon Corbett claims, is a direct consequence of United “not properly inspecting and maintaining its aircraft”. Simple Flying’s lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, a Carmel, Indiana resident and others on board, suffered from physical symptoms such as nausea, symptoms of shock and post-flight insomnia.
“Nobody should have to go through this because an airline is refusing to properly look after their planes and customers, and I look forward to forcing United to get it right as best they can,” Corbett told Fox News Monday.
The aircraft with the passengers was a Boeing 777-200. Photo: Boris Samoylenko via Flickr
United prides itself on professionalism
United Airlines was not immediately available for a request for comment at the time of writing. However, a spokesman for the carrier told Fox that
“Safety remains our top priority – for our employees and our customers. We pride ourselves on the care our employees take for our customers and their unwavering commitment to the safety of our daily operations and in response to this incident. It is this professionalism that led most of the passengers on Flight 328 to board another flight to Honolulu later that evening. We are continuing to work with federal agencies investigating this incident and due to the ongoing investigation, we are unable to make any further comments at this time. “
NTSB found a fatigue fracture
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released an investigation update into the incident on March 5. The agency said it found multiple causes of fatigue fracture on a fan blade that broke 7.5 inches above the base on the trailing edge.
The blade had gone through 2,979 flight cycles (takeoffs and landings) since its last thermoacoustic inspection in 2016. These images were re-examined after a very similar incident involving a United Boeing 777-200 in 2018.
The NTSB released an investigation update on the incident last week. Photo: NTSB
Coincidentally, that engine failure affected the same aircraft, N773UA, that United used as a replacement aircraft for the Denver to Honolulu flight last month. This fact has not gone unnoticed by the legal counsel behind the class action lawsuit against the airline. The filing states that,
“UNITED’s failure to ensure that what happened in 2018 did not happen again in 2021 is, in all respects, an astonishing failure of appropriate security practices.”
Although no specific amount has been requested, the lawsuit states that the expected amount is expected to exceed $ 5 million.
Do you think United Airlines could have done more to prevent the incident? Is a lawsuit appropriate in this case? Let us know what you think in the comments below.