Passengers onboard United Airlines Flight 328 have reportedly slammed United with a class action lawsuit, citing emotional distress, after one of the plane’s engines failed and caught fire mid-flight.
Chad Schnell, the passenger leading the class action, claimed that the incident caused him severe emotional distress, and accused the airline of failing to properly inspect and maintain its aircraft fleet, thus causing the incident.
The lawsuit, filed with a Colorado court, stated that the engine in question “spectacularly failed” before “scattering pieces of the engine over Colorado and leaving passengers to a horrifying view of a fire on the wing”.
“The 231 passengers on board UA328 were lucky to escape with their lives, as the flight managed to land with no serious physical injuries; however, it left these passengers in fear for their life for nearly 20 minutes,” it said.
“Nearly all of them experienced the emotional distress that would be a natural human emotional response to a near-death experience.”
Schnell’s lawyer, Jonathan Corbett, added that the passengers are struggling mentally after the incident.
“Common things are flashback scenarios, nightmares, general fear,” Corbett said.
The lawsuit suggests that the airline is responsible for the incident, and should pay damages to all passengers onboard. It added that “the total amount in controversy is likely to exceed $5,000,000”.
In a statement released after the lawsuit was filed, United Airlines backed the actions of its employees and reiterated its emphasis on safety.
“We remain proud of the ability of our employees to safely get our UA328 customers back to the airport and ultimately on to their destination later that same day,” the statement said.
“Safety remains our highest priority – for our employees and our customers. Given the ongoing federal investigation, we will not comment further on this lawsuit at this time.”
On Saturday, 20 February, a United Boeing 777-200, registration N772UA, was performing flight UA328 to Honolulu when it suffered an engine failure shortly after take-off from Denver.
The 26-year-old aircraft had 231 passengers and 10 crew on board when the right PW4000 series engine failed and caught alight at around 13,000 feet, and rained debris over homes and yards in Broomfield, Colorado, as passengers and witnesses looked on.
Last month, World of Aviation reported that the engine in question had performed less than 3,000 cycles, under half the number required between engine blade inspections.
Under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 series engine that is used on the United 777 is supposed to be inspected every 6,500 cycles, in light of a separate United engine incident that occurred in 2018.
After this most recent incident, engine maker Pratt & Whitney advised airlines to increase engine checks to once every 1,000 cycles.