There’s some scary footage of an engine cover (nacelle) falling apart on an United 777 today from San Francisco – Honolulu. The incident occurred 45 minutes before the arrival of the aircraft into Honolulu at which point the airport received a distress signal from the aircraft. Twitter is full of videos and messages regarding the incident which occurred earlier today. Thankfully the ultimate result was a safe landing in paradise for all passengers. They definitely went through an ordeal to get there:
— Erik Haddad (@erikhaddad) February 13, 2018
— Maria Falaschi (@mfalaschi) February 13, 2018
Judging by the look of things it appears to be the front of the right (starboard side) engine on this aircraft that blew off. Many people are describing the flight as being “the scariest of their lives”. This is understandably so given that there was a “big bang” when parts of the engine blew off. However, what many people don’t realize is that these aircrafts can fly on one engine for very long distances. Even if something were to have happened to this engine, most aircrafts can take off and land on a single engine, which is just hard to fathom in our minds when we hear this loud boom or bang.
This is also the reason aircrafts to Hawaii and across large bodies of water are tested and given a specific ratings called ETOPS based on ability to fly when there is an engine failure. Both a Boeing 777, and an Airbus A350 can fly more than 5 hours based on their average ETOPS ratings. And from what I know the 737s operated by most airlines on these Hawaiian routes have ETOPS of around 180 minutes or 3 hours, which is more than long enough to reach the nearest air strip to land on.
What we really should be thankful for in this incident is that the debris from the engine which blew off mid flight did not damage any other part of the aircraft. This is a scary incident for sure and despite knowing the facts, I often have to repeat them to myself when I get onto an aircraft and experience some rough turbulence.