United's grounded 777s are cleared for takeoff later this month

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United Airlines said it could have as many as 30 to 35 of its Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777s back in the sky by July.
United Airlines said it could have as many as 30 to 35 of its Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777s back in the sky by July. Photo Credit: United Airlines

United has received the FAA marching orders that will enable it to return its 52 Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777s to service.

The carrier will begin flying the first of those aircraft officially on its schedule beginning May 26, chief commercial office Andrew Nocella said at a Bank of America investors conference Tuesday. He added that United will have 30 to 35 of the planes in the sky by July. The planes have been grounded since last February, when metal fatigue on a PW 400 engine caused fan blade cracks and sent engine parts flying into a Denver suburb.

• Related: United confident a pilot shortage won't affect the airline

In a statement, the FAA confirmed that it has approved the service directives that United must adhere to before relaunching those 777 aircraft.

Nocella said that having those planes back at United's disposal will make it easier for the carrier to resume flying at levels that meet current flight demand. Pratt & Whitney-powered 777s represent 10% of United's capacity.

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