Boeing 777 diverted after toilet overflows into cabin

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A United Airlines Boeing 777 traveling from Frankfurt to San Francisco was forced to make a U-turn around two hours into its flight on Friday, after a toilet malfunctioned and began leaking into the cabin.

The aircraft circled over the North Sea as the cabin crew tried to fix the problem, although their efforts were unsuccessful, prompting the pilots to return to Germany.

The flight experienced “a maintenance issue pertaining to the lavatory,” a United spokesperson told The Sun, adding that the passengers had been accommodated overnight and rescheduled for travel the following day.

The misfortune, first reported by Bild on Sunday, is the latest in a series of safety-related events involving United Airlines. US aerospace giant Boeing, meanwhile, has recently been hit by a series of quality control scandals that have resulted in grounded planes and unplanned safety checks. 

Last week, a United flight destined for Denver returned to the gate in San Francisco shortly after takeoff due to a bird strike that damaged the pilot’s side window. Later, a United flight departing from San Francisco International Airport for Paris was diverted to Denver just short of the Canadian border due to an engine issue. 

Boeing passenger jets were involved in several safety incidents last month. At least 50 people on a Boeing 787 operated by Latam Airlines were injured on March 11 when the jet – heading to New Zealand from Australia – went into a sudden nosedive, slamming passengers into the ceiling. Elsewhere, an Osaka-bound Boeing 777 operated by United was diverted after a tire fell off its landing gear upon takeoff in San Francisco on March 7. The following day, a 737 MAX 8 operated by the same air carrier rolled off a runway and tilted onto its side after landing in Houston.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last month announced plans to increase its oversight of United Airlines following the series of safety incidents, prompting shares in the carrier to drop 3.4%.

FAA chief Mike Whitaker said Boeing must improve its safety culture and address quality issues before the agency will allow the planemaker to boost production of the 737 MAX, which Boeing had previously labeled “the safest airplane” on the market. The manufacturer’s shares have lost more than 30% since the beginning of the year.

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