United’s Denver engine failure 777 heads to the desert

The jet caused quite a commotion when it sent debris raining down on a Denver neighbourhood earlier this year

The United Airlines aircraft involved in a high-profile engine failure incident over Denver in February, left the city for the first time bound for a storage facility.

The Boeing 777-200, N772UA (c/n 26930) – which was the fifth example to ever be manufactured – departed the Colorado capital yesterday (July 15) at 8.00am local time and landed at Victorville/Southern California Logistics Airport around 1 hour and 45 minutes later.

The ferry flight comes after the Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered widebody experienced an engine failure shortly after take-off from Denver International on February 20.

Photo: NTSB

The failure – which was later confirmed by the NTSB as having been contained – left debris strewn across a Denver neighbourhood. Large parts of the engine cowling including the inlet cowl fell in residents’ gardens.

Uniform Alpha was the very first example of the twin-engine widebody to be delivered to any airline. 

As the launch customer for the type, United accepted the aircraft on May 15, 1995, and began operating it on June 7.

In response to the incident, the carrier grounded all 19 of its -200s and 33 -200ERs powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 powerplant.

While Uniform Alpha’s movement to Victorville could be seen as a sign that the jet is to be scrapped, a United Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Key.Aero that the carrier expects its PW4000-powered 777s to return to service.

In an investor earnings call in April, Jon Roitman, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said: “We're really looking forward to getting the aircraft back in the air safely.”

However, only time will tell if the near 27-year-old veteran widebody has been saved from the scrapheap and could return to the skies carrying passenger once again.