'Mayday, We Have an Engine Fire'

Atlas Air Boeing 747 makes emergency landing in Miami after engine fire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2024 10:23 AM CST

An Atlas Air cargo aircraft returned to Miami International Airport for an emergency landing less than an hour after take-off Thursday night. An airline spokesperson says the Boeing 747-8 landed safely after experiencing an "engine malfunction." "Mayday, mayday...We have an engine fire," a crew member says in a recording from air traffic control obtained by NBC6. "Request access back to the airport. No, we'll go ahead and land. We have five souls onboard." The Federal Aviation Administration said in a preliminary report that a "softball-sized hole" was found above one of the engines.

"The crew followed all standard procedures and safely returned to MIA. At Atlas, safety is always our top priority and we will be conducting a thorough inspection to determine the cause," Atlas Air said in a statement. Melania Adaros recorded video of the plane after she saw it "shooting sparks" as it flew "very low." "You always see a plane going up or going down," she tells the AP. "This one was just at a steady level and it was shooting sparks. It was very surreal." She says she saw the plane, which had been headed to Puerto Rico, appear to do "a big, wide, swerving turn" toward Miami International Airport.

The New York Times reports that according to FlightAware data, the aircraft left its gate at 10:11pm and returned to the airport around 50 minutes later, having traveled a total of around 60 miles. The Times describes the incident as "another potential setback for Boeing" after issues with the 737 Max 9 in recent weeks. (More emergency landing stories.)

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