Federal safety investigators are looking into an engine failure that forced a Delta Air Lines jet with 121 Orlando-bound passengers to return to Atlanta shortly after takeoff.
The emergency occurred Wednesday, Sept. 5, aboard Delta Flight 1418. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the “uncontained” engine failure in the 27-year-old Boeing 757-200 jet happened at about 18,000 feet.
Data from the flight tracking website FlightAware.com shows that Delta 1418 took off shortly after 11 p.m., climbed to 18,000 feet in eight minutes, and then started slowing down. The plane leveled off and began a measured descent back to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Delta plane was in the air for a little less than half an hour.
An uncontained engine failure occurs when rotating parts of the turbine break off and blast shrapnel that can damage other parts of the airplane. This is what happened in April when a fan blade broke off from a Southwest Airlines airplane and tore off the front of the engine. The debris generated by the engine malfunction struck the fuselage and broke a window. Jennifer Riordan, a 43-year-old mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was partially sucked out of the window and died later of her injuries in a Philadelphia hospital.
Last week’s Delta incident is at least the fourth such accident to happen since August 2016, according to Bloomberg, including an engine failure that forced another Southwest Air flight to make an emergency landing and an engine explosion that destroyed the right wing of an American Airlines flight as it was taking off from Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
Anthony Black, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta, issued a statement saying the plane “experienced a maintenance issue,” according to the Associated Press. He said Delta was cooperating with the NTSB and will replace the engine when the investigation is over.