Autopsy of engine parts will help determine what caused explosion

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — The investigation continues on Monday into what caused the engine on a United flight to explode shortly after leaving Denver International Airport (DIA). 

Investigators will be checking every part to figure out what caused one of the engine’s blades to breakup and drop parts over several miles around Broomfield.  

Aviation experts tell FOX31 that inspectors already have a lot of data about what happened Saturday. 

Now, the tedious process begins of putting together all those pieces that blew apart. 

It’s like conducting an engine autopsy and putting the pieces of a puzzle together to determine a cause. 

United flight 328 made an emergency landing at DIA Saturday, after one of its engines burst into flames.  

Aviation experts tell us the plane’s inspection records will be looked at closely. 

“Uncontained engine failures should be a very rare event in commercial airline aviation,” said Ladd Sanger who is a pilot and aviation attorney. 

Sanger is based in Texas and has worked on other cases involving catastrophes.

Sanger says investigators will closely inspect every part of the Pratt & Whitney engines, including the blades that broke up in the engine that exploded Saturday.   

“There are a lot of components on an aircraft that are, either on calendar or operational time-limited meaning they have to be replaced,” said Sanger. 

We are told aircraft is inspected on a regular basis and so are the engines. 

In some cases, they are taken apart and put back together again. 

How often that happens is regulated by the number of flights they make both domestically and internationally.  

With new concern over the Pratt & Whitney engine, investigators may use special equipment to inspect the plane’s parts with an X-Ray like machine.  

Another aviation expert, Steve Cowell said, “They are going to be able to see these finite little cracks that may to be visible to the naked eye in order to determine whether a potential failure can exist.”

Cowell added that while investigators will look at the entire engine, the primary focus for now will be on the parts that failed on United flight 328.  

He believes the blades will be inspected much more than ever before.  

Cowell also tells us it could take anywhere from three to six months for the investigation to be completed.  

The NTSB today did not release any new details about its findings so far.  

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