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Boeing 777 Grounding explained – Pratt and Whitney engine failure incidents – Impact on Air India?

Boeing 777 Grounding explained – Pratt and Whitney engine failure incidents – Impact on Air India?


  • GS 3 II Economy II Infrastructure II Transportation

Why in the news?

Boeing 777 aircraft being operated by United Airlines experienced engine failure shortly after takeoff causing debris from the broken engine to fall from the skies above Denver, Colorado – the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the removal of this particular type of engine from service pending further inspections.

What happened recently?

  • While a cause for the incident is yet to be ascertained and will be known after a detailed investigation, the US FAA has asked airlines tom conduct “immediate or stepped-up” inspections of Boeing 777 planes equipped with certain Pratt& Whitney PW4000 engines.
  • This was the model of the engine that was involved in the incident.

Why Planes Crash?

  • Aviation accidents can be traced to a variety of causes, including pilot error, air traffic controller error, design and manufacturer defects, maintenance failures, sabotage, or inclement weather.

Causes of plane accident:

  • Equipment Failure/Malfunction:Defects in aircraft can be caused by design flaw, manufacturer flaw, or wear and tear from use. Although inspections are performed on the airplane before and after flights, accidents still result from faulty equipment and malfunctioning components.
  • Human Error:From mechanics and ground crew to flight attendants and air traffic controllers, these professionals all play an important role in the maintenance and safe operation of the aircraft. An example of human error contributing to why planes crash is a case our firm handled involving a 1993 Chinese Eastern Airlines flight to Los Angeles.
  • Mid-air Collisions: Mid-air collisions are less common than other types of aviation accidents, because the FAA uses the most up-to-date technology for its air traffic control system, which monitors airliners in the United States.
  • Pilot Error:Pilots are responsible for the safe transportation of their passengers. At times, rarely, pilots fail to comply with proper procedures in the operation of an aircraft.
  • Weather: Unpredictable weather, such as shear gusts of winds, freezing ice storms, thunderstorms and lightning, and more, can affect both small and large airplanes.
  • Aircraft Maintenance Negligence — a leading trend in the aviation industry is to cut corners and outsource aircraft maintenance and inspections. It has become increasingly common that the reasons why planes crash is closely tied to the airlines do the absolute minimum to keep planes in the air.
  • Sabotage — Aviation accidents caused by sabotage account for roughly 9 percent of all crashes. The September 11, 2001 hijackings, EgyptAir flight 990 and the Germanwings flight 9525 crashes are arguably some of the most notable sabotage crashes in history.
  • Airline Corporate Negligence — the corporate airline industry is emphasizing timing, turnaround and cutting corners over public safety.
  • Air Traffic Controller Negligence —There has been in news numerous runway accident cases, including one at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in which a federal air traffic controller’s negligence resulted in a US Airways plane landing on a SkyWest plane in 1991.
  • Improper takeoff and landing: Example is Kozhikode plane crash in year 2020

Prevention of air accidents:

  • Training and education of the aircrew: Prevention should primarily focus on training and education of the aircrew, care for the aviation equipment, technical support to air traffic, organizational and control issues as well as the field of care for the labour force etc.
  • Planning and steadiness: However, prevention should prove inefficient if not carried out on a basis of planning and steadiness. As its substantial part is made up of the analyses of air accidents, the operator is liable to make constant use of all the technical tools of objective control mostly flight data recorders, magneto phone tapes etc.).
  • Investments into prevention: The tools must be held in perfect technical status and follow innovation in time. Some airlines may find it financially too demanding, but investments into prevention are not meant as money through out of the window. It can be said for sure that any air accident is much more expensive than thecosts of the preventive measures.
  • Timely detection and elimination of the causes: Air accident is seldom a result of a single cause. It is typical for them to originate from a combination of factors. It is the cumlation of these events, which will eventually result in air accident. Thus, by prevention of accidents is meant timely detection and elimination of the causes before it develops into an event.

Safety Enhancing Initiatives in India:

  • All flying accidents are avoidable. A high level of professionalism in IAF has gone a long way in reducing accidents. Efficient and proactive reporting, investigation, analysis and dissemination has prevented accidents. Armed with these beliefs, Directorate of Aerospace Safety at Air HQ provides support to field units to enhance aerospace safety measures. Specific initiatives are listed below:
    • Air force system of error management (AFSEM).
    • Accident probability factor (APF).
    • Integrated Aerospace Safety Management System(IASMS).
    • Dedicated Ornithology cell to mitigate Bird Strike Hazards.

International organizations involved in the area of civil aviation safety:

  • ICAO: The most important organization involved in safety and prevention in civil aviation is known as theInternational Civil Aviation Organization, the ICAO.
  • Chicago Convention: It make provisions for the certificates of airworthiness, to be hold by all aircraft carrying out international air transportation and licences of aircrew airworthiness
  • ICAO has established a Global Aviation Safety Plan: The Global System of Aviation and Transport is to great extent dependent on the quality of international coordination and standardization of the aviation and transport related activities and the airlines, of airlines, joint financial systems terminology, performance monitoring and evaluation of air transport, its representation at negotiations with state organs and the ICAO as well
  • European Air Safety Agency – the EASA: The EASA is the executive body for 31 states. It is the successional organization of the Joint Aviation Authorities, the JAA, which pursued the ICAO in the field of joint safety policy and planning


For a substantial progress in air transportation safety to be achieved, it is necessary to focus on the most frequently occuring and types of air accidents, such as the CFIT and loss of control over the aircraft. It is also important to focus on the phases of flight especially on its beginning (takeoff) and end (landing).

Mains oriented question:

There are several reasons for aviation accident, but it India it is majorly seen that the accidents are often due human ignorance, or management ignorance, how it can be stop, Explain in detail. (200 words)