Grounding of P&W-Powered 777s Highlights Declining Popularity of Legacy Models

Following the grounding and temporary ban of Pratt & Whitney 4000-powered Boeing 777 aircraft due to a United Airlines engine failure at the weekend, travel data and analytics expert Cirium has put together analysis that reveals the temporary grounding is having a limited impact on global fleet capacity.

Travel Radar Editor Callum Tennant reported on Saturday that eyewitnesses described hearing a loud bang and seeing an explosion in the right-hand engine of flight UA328.

The findings of the Cirium analysis highlight the declining popularity of aircraft ‘legacy models’. The Pratt & Whitney (PW) 4000-powered Boeing 777 aircraft  had already fallen out of favour with carriers since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the analytics expert, daily flights by all in-service 777-200/200ER widebody aircraft, including GE Aviation GE90 and Rolls-Royce Trent 800-equipped models in February were down by more than three-quarters when compared to mid-2019 levels.

Cirium analysis
Graph supplied by Cirium.

N.B.: The graphic above also shows the impact of Typhoon Hagibis which struck Japan on October 12, 2019, causing the cancellation of half of flights by P&W-powered 777s for that day.

Out of the global fleet of 125, all 51 operational passenger-configured, PW4000-powered 777s had been removed from service by 23 February. This includes 15 stretched -300 models operated by All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Korean Air.

Cirium says United had the largest total inventory of PW4000-equipped aircraft – a 52-strong fleet of -200/200ER models – of which 19 had been in service prior to the United Airlines engine failure. Just over one third of the 183 remaining Rolls-Royce Trent 800-powered 777-200/200ER/300s were classified as in-service as of 23 February alongside approximately half of the 147 GE90-equipped aircraft, including 11 in United’s fleet. By contrast, Cirium says that 664 of the newer-generation and exclusively GE90-powered, passenger-configured 777-200LRs and -300ERs were in service, leaving only 174 in storage.



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Satu Dahl
Satu Dahl
Satu Dahl is our Chief Content Officer and an experienced journalist and editor specialising in aviation. Over the years, she has edited several aviation publications and websites, including the Aircraft Cabin Management, Low-Cost & Regional Airline Business, Regional International & MRO Management magazines.


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