Two injured as B747 engine parts fall over Dutch village

written by Hannah Dowling | February 22, 2021
Longtail Aviation Boeing 747-400 registration VQ-BWT (Planespotters.net / Maarten Dolls)

An elderly lady and a child have both been injured by falling engine debris from a Boeing 747-400 that began to shed engine turbine parts ahead of an engine failure as it flew over The Netherlands on Saturday.

A 30-year-old Longtail Aviation Boeing 747-400 converted freighter, registration VQ-BWT, took off from Maastricht Aachen Airport at 16:11 local time, bound for New York JFK and carrying general cargo and pharmaceuticals onboard.

Shortly after take-off, one of its four Pratt and Witney PW4000 engines reportedly suffered severe damage and began to shed parts from its turbine blades over the village of Meerssen below.

The crew reportedly first declared PAN PAN, then Mayday, and reported they had lost the engine.

Powered by its three remaining engines, the crew diverted to Liege Airport in Belgium, where the plane entered a hold to burn fuel over the Ardennes.

The plane landed safely around one hour after its initial departure.

According to a spokesman for the South Limburg Safety Region, the engine is believed to have exploded, causing shrapnel from the engine to fall over the town below.

Falling debris hit an elderly woman, who was slightly injured as a result and was taken to hospital. A young child was also reportedly lightly injured after burning his fingers on a piece of fallen metal.

Several homes and cars were also hit by falling engine debris.

The aircraft doesn’t appear to have been grounded or out of use in the 90 days preceding the incident.

The Onderzoeksraad voor Veiligheid, or Dutch Safety Board, has begun its investigation into the cause of the incident.

The incident occurred on the same day as another aircraft powered by PW4000 series engines experienced a single-engine failure and rained down debris.

A United Airlines 777 bound for Honolulu was forced to return to Denver on Saturday after it suffered an engine failure shortly after take-off, and rained engine debris on homes and yards in Broomfield, Colorado.

The 26-year-old United Boeing 777, registration N772UA, was performing flight UA328 with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board when the right PW4000 engine failed and caught alight at around 13,000 feet.

Powered by its one remaining engine, the aircraft landed safely on runway 26 around 23 minutes after departure.

There were no reported injuries, either onboard the aircraft or due to falling debris.

In light of United flight 328, the US Federal Aviation Administration has now issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for Boeing 777 aircraft powered by certain Pratt and Witney PW4000 engines to be inspected immediately.

It is not yet known if this AD will be extended to other aircraft powered by Pratt and Whitney PW4000 engines.

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