Debris from HNL-bound flight falls over Colorado homes leading to emergency landing

Updated: Feb. 20, 2021 at 5:30 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A flight bound for Honolulu was diverted back to Denver International Airport after a major engine failure Saturday.

United Airlines flight 328 was carrying 241 people on board: 231 of them were passengers, 10 were crew members.

According to the FAA, the Boeing 777 experienced a “right-engine failure shortly after takeoff.” Debris from the plane came raining down on homes in the Broomfield area.

The pilots radioed in a mayday call to air traffic control shortly after it happened.

One photo shared by Bloomfield police showed a large circular piece appearing to be from the plane’s engine in the front yard of a home about 25 miles north of Denver. The massive piece narrowly missed the house and vehicles in the driveway.

There were other reports of debris scattered throughout the suburbs: At least one home was directly hit, leaving a gaping hole in the roof. Other pieces of debris fell onto a soccer field nearby.

Another video shared on Twitter showed the engine of the plane in flames as the plane continued to fly. (Note: The woman who posted the tweet did not take the video, but says it came from another passenger on the flight.)

Kauai resident Barbara Underwood was on the flight with her husband Ed. She said at first, everything seemed fine.

“I looked out the window and I saw the engine,” she said. “I noticed it was just shaking a lot. And I thought, well, it’s the turbulence.”

“Then as I was looking at it, and it just blew fire. And that ring thing around it just flew off and then it was just smoking,” she added.

Fearful of the worst case scenario, Underwood reached for her phone to text her loved ones.

“I turned my texting back on and said my final goodbyes to our children. Now we didn’t know what was going to happen. It was pretty terrifying,” she said.

Underwood described the flight back to the airport as a very long 20 minutes.

Miraculously, officials reported no injuries both on the ground or from those on the plane.

The pilots were able to safely land at the Denver International Airport where passengers deplaned and were bussed to the terminal.

“The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates,” the FAA added.

Aviation officials are asking Colorado residents who may come across debris to leave it in place as the investigation will examine every single piece of the plane in an attempt to figure out what went wrong.

The airline worked to rebook passengers on alternative flights to the islands.

Saturday’s incident was eerily similar of another United Airlines flight from 2018 that was also bound for Honolulu.

The NTSB said a separation of a fan blade led to the engine cover falling off from flight 1175, which departed San Francisco.

The plane was already over the Pacific Ocean when it happened, and pilots decided to continue flying to Hawaii. They eventually landed safely at Honolulu International Airport.

Details are developing. This story will be updated.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.