Japanese authorities are investigating a significant engine failure aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200, which involved the loss of an engine panel and fan blade damage.

The incident occurred on 4 December as the aircraft, JA8978 (MSN 27637), operated flight JL904 from Okinawa’s Naha airport to Tokyo Haneda, says JAL.

At 11:53, nine minutes after taking off, the crew requested to make an emergency landing. The aircraft returned safely to Naha, with none of the 178 passengers and 11 crew injured.

“Upon taking off from Okinawa Naha airport, the left engine experienced a malfunction at approximately 16,000-17,000 feet,” says JAL.

“Upon inspection, a part of the engine cover and the fan blade were confirmed to be damaged. As a result, the [Japan Civil Aviation Bureau] categorised the event as a serious Incident.”

Images on social media show part of the left-hand PW4000’s outboard casing sticking upwards, with most of the panel apparently shorn off. Another image suggests that the tips of several fan blades are missing.

Source: Asahi Shimbum

Following the incident, Japanese authorities have asked Japan’s 777-200 operators to recheck their aircraft and engines.

Cirium fleets data shows that JA8978 was delivered in 1997, and is managed by JAL. The carrier  has 13 PW4000-powered 777-200/300s, of which nine are -200s and four are -300s.