DENVER (CBS4) – Engine failure on a commercial aircraft is not common, but it also isn’t unheard of. United Airlines flight 328 suffered some kind of problem on Saturday as it left Denver for Honolulu.
The flight had to return to Denver International Airport.READ MORE: FAA To Remove Some Boeing 777's From Service Under Emergency Directive
Even though the images taken by passenger are shocking, Kevin Kuhlmann the Associate Chair of the Aviation and Aerospace Science Department at Metro State University Denver says dual engine airplanes are able to fly for a long time with only one engine.
“That’s got to be the case because it’s not uncommon for an engine to either fail or there is something going on where you shut the engine down, precautionary just in case,” he said.
Kuhlmann says airline pilots and crew members are ready for all sorts of inflight emergencies – even losing an engine.READ MORE: 'We Figured The Plane Crashed': Coloradan Counts Blessings After United Flight 328 Engine Explodes Overhead
“The pilots are very well trained for it and know how to deal with it.”
He does admit there have been incidents in the past that sound similar to Saturday’s events, like in February of 2018 when United Airlines flight 1175, a Boeing 777, which left San Francisco for Honolulu. The engine caught fire and started spewing debris about 36 minutes from the Honolulu airport.
“Over the last two or three years there have been some incidents,” he said.
He cautions against jumping to any conclusions about the integrity of the aircraft in Denver’s incident or its engines.MORE NEWS: LISTEN: Broomfield Releases 911 Calls After Plane Engine Explodes Over Neighborhoods
“We don’t know yet. It’s too early,” Kuhlmann said. “They haven’t looked at all the possibilities. This could be mechanical in which there was a structural failure or there could be an external factor such as a bird strike or foreign object damage.”