South Korean low-cost airline Jin Air has become one of the first Asia-Pacific operators to resume flying its Boeing 777-200ERs after the aircraft was grounded following technical issues with its Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.
On June 12, 2022, after a one-year grounding, Jin Air, a subsidiary of Hanjin Group, resumed daily operations with its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft by deploying it on a domestic regular route LJ307 between Seoul Gimpo (GMP) and Jeju International Airport (CJU).
Jin Air is now focused on completing the necessary maintenance tasks to return the remaining three 777-200ERs to service in July 2022 “to address the shortage of seats in the upcoming summer peak season and respond to increasing travel demand”, the carrier said in a recent statement.
“With a total of 393 seats, with the Boeing 777-200ER it is possible to immediately increase the capacity on the Gimpo-Jeju route, where slots are saturated,” Jin Air explained.
According to Planespotters.com data, Jin Air operates a monogamous Boeing fleet consisting of 27 planes, comprising four 737-200ERs, a single 737 MAX 8 jet, two 737-900s, and 20 737-800 aircraft. The airline introduced its first Triple Seven long-range wide-body plane in 2014. Since then, the aircraft has been operating domestic South Korean routes, alongside three other 777s.
However, in February 2021, the carrier grounded its entire 777 fleet after an incident involving a United Airlines Boeing 777-200 jet during flight UAL328. The aircraft, registered N772UA, was flying from Denver, United States, to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States on February 20, 2021 when it suffered an uncontained engine failure, scattering engine parts over several neighborhoods in Denver.
After the incident, Boeing requested the grounding of 128 aircraft pending a safety inspection.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) requiring all owners and operators of Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered Boeing 777s to immediately perform a thermal acoustic image inspection before further flight.
Then, on March 11, 2022, the FAA ordered additional corrective measures for PW4000 engines in three airworthiness directives. These included the structural reinforcement of the engine inlet to withstand fan blade failures, as well as repetitive ultrasonic and thermal acoustic image inspections for cracks on fan blades.