My Freedom of Information (FOIA…A for Act) request about a United Airlines engine failure during its climb out of San Francisco April 23 yielded FAA documents that placed blame on a faulty “2.5 bleed valve actuator.” I posted the original story three days after the incident.
What is a 2.5 bleed valve actuator, you might ask? I found a description (read down) and it’s probably more than you want. “Its purpose is to open and close as needed for engine start and performance adjustments. Improper operation or adjustment of this bleed band will result in poor performance and poor starting characteristics.” What exactly is flowing it through I am not sure….perhaps air.
Anyhow, flight 213 on its way to Philadelphia returned safely, but at least one passenger who asked to not be identified noticed something was amiss. The plane was a Boeing 757-200 or in United parlance, a B-752.
“The incident occurred during the climb to cruising altitude maybe 10-15 minutes after take-off. There was no noticeable sounds, but there was an unusual seesaw roll of the plane at one point (I’m guessing this is when the engine went out and the plane reacted before it could stabilize).”
My FOIA request was fulfilled albeit slowly. Maybe I shouldn’t have said “retired” journalist. Or “journalist” given the profession’s undeserved battered reputation of late. The FAA report on the repair read thusly with my comments in parenthesis.
“Aircraft experienced #1 engine uncommanded shutdown during climbout SFO.
Crew declared emergence (emergency?) and returned to SFO landing safely and without
incident (What do you mean without incident? An engine failure is incident enough, no?). SFOMM (my best guess after searching Google to decrypt this acronym is San Francisco Office of Mechanical Maintenance) performed inlet / exhaust visual inspection with no issues
noted. Found faulty 2.5 bleed valve actuator. Removed and replaced 2.5
bleed valve actuator and performed 5 minute idle run – ops check good with no
leaks noted. Aircraft was placed back into service and has flown numerous
cycles with no further issues related to this event. Root cause
determination for this event is faulty 2.5 bleed valve actuator. This PTRS
I filed the FOIA at the urging of aviation journalist Jon Ostrower given United PR confirmed the incident, but offered no detail.
While the plane landed safely, it’s always unnerving when an engine quits during flight. A more harrowing experience on a United flight was when an engine cover flew off en route to Honolulu from San Francisco on Feb. 13. Check out the video shot by a passenger of the aircraft shaking. Yikes.
Do United engines catch something in San Francisco?