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Boeing plane bursts into flames mid-flight

It comes after a door panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing plane in January

Martha McHardy
Friday 08 March 2024 15:23 GMT
Flames seen coming from plane engine
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A United AirlinesBoeing 737 plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Texas after its engine exploded and burst into flames mid-air.

The flight, which was bound for Fort Myers, Florida had just set off from Houston on Monday when it was forced to make an emergency landing just minutes into the journey.

Video footage shows bright orange sparks shooting several feet out from beneath the left wing of the aircraft, just inches away from the passenger windows.

In the video, a crewmember could be heard alerting passengers to the issue. “Hey ladies and gentlemen, we realised something happened outside,” they said over the intercom.

Minutes later, United Airlines Flight 1118 returned to George Bush Intercontinental Airport where it made an emergency landing at around 7pm on Monday.

No injuries were reported.

Orange sparks could be seen shooting several feet out from beneath the left wing of the Boeing 737 aircraft (Dorian D Cerda via Storyful)

Passenger Dorian D Cerda told Storyful that the plane was “approximately 15 minutes” into the two-hour journey to Florida when it was forced to divert.

United Airlines said “the flight landed safely and the passengers deplaned normally”, adding that they “arranged for a new aircraft to take our customers to their destination”.

The cause of the engine blaze is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The United Airlines flight had only been in the air for 15 minutes when the fire broke out. (Dorian D Cerda via Storyful)

Boeing has been under scrutiny since a door panel on a different kind of aircraft, a 737 Max 9, blew off during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Several passengers on board were injured in the incident, which grounded all Boeing 737 Max 9s and prompted investigations by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, into the aircraft manufacturer and Spirit AeroSystems, which made the door plug.

Reports released since have suggested the plane did not have the critical bolts it needed to keep the doorplug in place when it left the factory.

Following the incident, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which operate 79 of the planes, said they, too, found loose bolts on some of their aircraft.

Last month, the FAA said it was giving Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to fix quality problems and meet safety standards.

A damaged car is seen at an on-airport employee parking lot after tyre debris from a Boeing 777 landed on it (AP)

“Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements,” said FAA administrator Mike Whitaker. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way.”

Boeing CEO David Calhoun has said that the company “will develop the comprehensive action plan with measurable criteria that demonstrates the profound change that Administrator Whitaker and the FAA demand”.

On Thursday, another United Airlines Boeing 777 plane was forced to make an emergency landing in California after a tyre fell off midflight and damaged several cars in a parking lot in San Francisco.

No one was injured, airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said in a statement.

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