Cathay takes four Boeing 777-300 jets out of service after engine part falls off

Wednesday, December 8th 2004, 11:06 am
By: News On 6

HONG KONG (AP) _ Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said Wednesday it has taken four of its 10 Boeing 777-300 jets out of service temporarily after an engine part fell off one of them and struck a car following takeoff from Bangkok last week.

In the Dec. 1 incident, a 5-foot-wide and 6 1/2-foot-long section of an engine duct plummeted to the ground, and Flight 751 bound for Bombay returned to Bangkok. No one was hurt, but the debris destroyed the windshield and roof of the car, which was parked near Bangkok's international airport.

At a briefing, Cathay said it has since checked all 10 of its Boeing B777-300s and found problems with engine ducts in four of them.

Cathay spokeswoman Carolyn Leung said Boeing experts came to Hong Kong to investigate the jets and make the necessary modifications.

``We will not resume operating the aircraft until we are 100 percent sure that the problem has been rectified,'' Leung said.

A Boeing official in Seattle did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

Leung said Cathay experienced a similar problem with another of its 777-300s on June 30. Following a flight from Taiwan, a routine post-flight check found that part of an engine duct had disappeared somewhere between Taipei and Hong Kong.

Cathay said passenger safety has not been compromised despite recent engine problems that have forced several flights to be aborted.

On Nov. 9, a Hong Kong-bound flight was forced to return to Los Angeles after witnesses reported seeing flames coming from one of the engines. Another Hong Kong-bound flight was aborted and returned to London because of engine trouble on Nov. 18.

Cathay said a new turbine blade caused the problem on the Los Angeles flight and that the part has since been returned to its manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, for investigation.

Cathay said it has introduced new procedures to monitor its aircraft.

``We guarantee that every possible step is always taken to ensure the absolute safety of all our passengers and crew,'' said Derek Cridland, Cathay's engineering director.