boeing engine failure
© @speedbird5280 (Hayden Smith) via Instagram
A United Airlines Boeing 777 suffered an uncontained engine failure over Denver earlier today.
A United Boeing 777 was forced to return to Denver International Airport earlier today. The 26-year-old aircraft suffered an uncontained engine failure over the city, with parts of the engine cowling ending up in a local resident's front yard.

It's incredibly rare for an aircraft to suffer an uncontained engine failure. In August 2019, Simple Flying reported that a car window in Italy had been smashed by debris from a Norwegian 787's uncontained failure. However, today has been a day of incredible co-incidence as not one but two major uncontained failures occurred over populated areas. Earlier today, parts of a Boeing 747 engine ended up lodged in the roof of a car in the Netherlands.

United Boeing 777 engine failure

Departing from Denver International Airport almost an hour late at 13:04 this afternoon, United Flight UA328 was due to fly to Honolulu. This flight was expected to last seven hours and 30 minutes. However, the flight ended up lasting just 30 minutes after the aircraft's number two engine suffered an uncontained engine failure around five minutes into the flight at 13,400 feet.

The aircraft was in the sky for around 30 minutes before landing back in Denver.
Talking to the Denver departure controllers as recorded by, the pilot of United 328 said,
"United 328 heavy, we've experienced an engine failure we need a turn. Mayday. Mayday. United 328 Heavy. Mayday. Mayday. Denver Departure United 328 Heavy, Mayday aircraft just expereinced an engine failure, we need to turn immediately."
According to the airline, the Boeing 777 had 231 passengers on board, accompanied by ten members of crew. N772UA is 26 years old, according to data from With line number five (meaning it was the fifth off the assembly line), it was actually one of the first Boeing 777 aircraft delivered to an airline, having flown with United Airlines since it was delivered on September 29th, 1995. According to data from, the aircraft has been busy throughout the past year, completing 2184.5 hours over 530 flights in the past 12 months.

Debris fell in front yards

The incident appears to have occurred over the district of Broomfield. The local police department shared a photo of the front of the engine cowling lying in somebody's front yard,

They then went on to urge the public not to touch debris if found and to report it immediately. The police department said that the NTSB is dispatching a team that wishes to view all debris in situ. The department went on to share further photos of side cowling lying in a field,

On the incident, a United Airlines spokesperson told Simple Flying,
"Flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departure, returned safely to Denver and was met by emergency crews as a precaution. There are no reported injuries onboard, and we will share more information as it becomes available."
Tom Boon Content Manager
Degree educated in Aerospace Technology, this certified pilot is a passionate specialist in European aviation. Working closely with British Airways, Lufthansa and others, Tom provides commentary on topical issues for outlets including the BBC. Based in Frankfurt, Germany.
Boeing 747 Engine Parts Rain Down On Dutch Village After Engine Fire
**Update: 21/02/21 @ 06:00 UTC - Statement offered by Longtail Aviation included in article.**
A cargo plane departing Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST) lost metal parts as it took off to its New York destination. It appears that these fragments came from an engine failure, with sources noting that the aircraft involved is a Boeing 747-400. Sources also report that some people on the ground have been slightly injured while various cars and property were damaged as a result of the fragments coming down. The aircraft was diverted to Liege.

The incident aircraft was a Boeing 747-400F. Photo: Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia Commons
The following statement was offered by the firm operating the 747:

Shortly after departure the crew noticed an engine issue, and followed the correct procedures to investigate the problem. Resulting from this, the decision was made, with air traffic approval, to divert to Liege Airport, Belgium, where it landed safely.

Longtail Aviation has activated its Emergency Response Plan and is coordinating with all concerned parties.

"Our flight crew dealt with this situation professionally and in accordance with the correct aviation standards, resulting in a safe and uneventful landing," said Martin Amick, Accountable Manager for Longtail Aviation. "We are now in the process of working closely with the Dutch, Belgian, Bermuda and UK authorities to understand the cause of this incident."
What we know so far

According to Dutch website Up in the Sky, the flight involved was LGT5504 with a Boeing 747-400 freighter operated by Longtail Aviation. The 30-year-old aircraft is registered as VQ-BWT. Video taken and posted to Twitter shows the 747 emitting smoke above the skies of Meerssen - less than three kilometers from the Maastricht Aachen Airport runway. reports that pieces of metal came down from the aircraft in the Meerssen area, adding that two people were hit by the debris, sustaining minor injuries. A woman was sent to the hospital with a head injury. Additionally, cars and homes were damaged, but at this point, the extent of the damage is unknown. Photos posted to Twitter also give us a closer view of the fragments and the damage they caused to vehicles.

In the post embedded below, you can see one fragment puncturing the roof of a car, indicating the very real danger these fragments could have been to anyone outside.

There is a suspicion that an object was ingested into the engine, causing damage to the turbine blades.

Flight details

Taking off at around 16:10 CET, flight LGT5504 was bound for New York. However, due to losing an engine, the aircraft diverted. Flying on three engines, the 747 headed to nearby Liège (LGG) in Belgium, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
flight engine failure
The flight path of the aircraft. The jet circled Liège a number of times.
flight engine
The speed and altitude graph of the aircraft's flight.
The Dutch Safety Board has opened an investigation into the incident. As this is a developing story, more information will be included as it becomes available.

About Longtail Aviation

Longtail Aviation is a Bermuda-based charter company that offers private jet transport in addition to heavy cargo transportation services. For its cargo services, the company's website notes that it provides the following with its two 747-400 freighters:
  • Scheduled and unscheduled charter capabilities
  • Access to main-deck cargo capacity
  • Nose-door loading for oversized cargo and priority loading separate cargo compartments with temperature settings of between 4°C to 29°C
According to, Longtail has two 747-400 freighters in its fleet with another 747 on the way, which is listed as a Combi (747-400M). The two are registered as VQ-BWS and VQ-BWT and listed as leases from UAE-based company Aquiline International.