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Boeing Jets Grounded After Plane Drops Debris On Colorado Neighborhood

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CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett reports on the investigation into the plane mishap.

Video Transcript

ELIOTT RODRIGUEZ: Across America tonight, dozens of Boeing 777 jets are grounded after an engine on a United Airlines plane broke apart and dropped debris on a neighborhood in Denver. Passenger video on Saturday shows flight 328's right engine on fire. The amazing thing in all of this, is the plane landed safely, and no one was hurt on board or on the ground. Boeing says 777 planes using the same type of engine should not fly until they're fully inspected. CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett reports on the investigation of that frightening midair failure.

ERROL BARNETT: In this passenger's unnerving video, you can clearly see the casing of flight 328's number two engine missing, debris falling away, and flames coming from inside.

- It's just dropping pieces.

- Over there!

ERROL BARNETT: Pieces of that engine fell across roads, fields, and even at this person's front door in the Denver suburbs.

- There's the engine right there, part of it, I guess.

ERROL BARNETT: Miraculously, there were no injuries on the ground, and the Hawaii-bound flight returned safely to Denver International. The NTSB, which is investigating, says after examining the plane and debris, they found two of the plane's Pratt and Whitney engine's fan blades were fractured-- one near its root, and a neighboring blade about halfway through-- but it has not yet determined a cause for the failure. One source tells CBS News there are several incidents matching what happened over Denver, so the first step will be examining these engines, and their blades, to make sure they're safe for flight.

Captain Laura Einsetler is a commercial airline pilot with more than three decades of experience. She says planes are built to be able to fly on a single engine if necessary. And what do you say to people who see something like this, they're already nervous about flying, and they think this is an example of why I won't fly.

LAURA EINSETLER: I would say the opposite. If anything, people should see that these aircraft are built to withstand so much, and these pilots are highly experienced and well trained to handle situations.

ERROL BARNETT: And we are specifically talking about the Pratt and Whitney 4,000 series engine, and the company says it is working with the NTSB. Also, Japan is grounding any aircraft using this model. United is the only US based airline with this engine type, and it says a small number of passengers can expect to have their travel plans disrupted this week as they remove those engines for service. Errol Barnett, CBS News, Newark, New Jersey.