Pilots were forced to abort a takeoff and evacuate passengers from a burning American Airlines flight on a runway at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after the airliner experienced what a federal official said was a rare and serious type of engine failure.
American Airlines Flight 383 to Miami experienced an “uncontained engine failure,” in which engine parts break off and are spewed outside the engine, the official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the incident and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The danger of such a failure is that engine pieces effectively become shrapnel and can cause extensive damage to the aircraft.
Flames and heavy black smoke poured from the side of the Boeing 767 jet as it sat on the runway Friday after the aborted takeoff.
Officials said the incident left 21 people injured. Footage from the scene showed passengers coming down emergency slides and hurrying across grass next to the runway as emergency vehicles surrounded the plane. The right wing was drooping toward the ground and appeared to have partially melted.
Passenger Sarah Ahmed told WLS-TV the plane was speeding down the runway when she heard an explosion and saw flames and black smoke.
She said everyone on the right side of the aircraft jumped from their seats and moved to the left side.
“People are yelling, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ Everyone’s screaming and jumping on top of each other to open the door,” Ahmed said.
“Within that time, I think it was seven seconds, there was now smoke in the plane and the fire is right up against the windows, and it’s melting the windows.”
The pilots reported an engine-related mechanical issue and aborted the takeoff, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the plane made an emergency stop around 2:35 pm after experiencing a problem during takeoff.
An earlier FAA statement said the plane had blown a tire, but officials later deleted that information from the statement.
Chicago Deputy Fire Commissioner Timothy Sampey said 20 passengers suffered minor injuries as they used the emergency chutes to evacuate.