Saturday, August 18, 2012

United Boeing 757-200, N17126: Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR), New Jersey

Witnesses described a frightening scene. 

Fire and smoke could be seen spewing from the left wing of United Airlines Flight 96 shortly after the twin-engine, Berlin-bound jet took off from Newark Liberty International Airport just before 6 p.m.

On board were 173 passengers and crew.

But two hours later, after the Boeing 757 burned off excess fuel over northern New Jersey, the narrow-body jet returned to Newark to make a safe landing while emergency crews watched from the side of the runway.

FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the crew of United Flight 96 landed safely at 8:05 p.m.

The cause of the jet’s engine problems remained unclear tonight.
Initial reports indicated that a blown tire was to blame. Barbara Woodruff, a special agent with the F.B.I., said pieces of the tire were sucked into one of the plane’s engines shortly after takeoff. The Federal Aviation Administration said it could not confirm that.

The incident, as initially described, was unusual. While passenger jets often experience blown tires, it is not common for such a problem to lead to an engine fire. In July 2000, an Air France Concorde crashed outside of Paris, killing 113 people, after runway debris led to a tire failure, puncturing a fuel tank on takeoff.

A United airlines spokesman said only that the Boeing 757 experienced a “mechanical issue“ with an engine.

“The crew followed standard procedures in returning to Newark, where the airplane landed safely,“ said the spokesman, Joe Micucci. “Meanwhile, we are working to re-accommodate the customers to their final destinations.“

Witnesses watching the plane said they saw flames from under a wing.

Keisha Thomas of central Jersey was driving south on the New Jersey Turnpike with her family when her brother noticed a plane looked strange as it took off.

“We looked a little closer and there were fireballs coming out from under one of the wings. We heard a popping sound coming from the engine,“ Thomas said. “It was a pretty scary sight, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.“

According to Bergen, the plane crew initially reported “an issue“ with the plane’s left engine but the aircraft then began operating normally. She said the aircraft returned to Newark as a precaution.

Boeing 757 aircraft are designed to fly safely on one engine.

Just last week, another United Airlines 757 set to fly from Seattle to the Washington, D.C., area caught fire before takeoff, but no one was hurt as all passengers were safely evacuated.

Officials said the fire had originated in an auxiliary power unit, which was extinguished by firefighters.

The jet involved in tonight’s incident was 14 years old. A number of service difficulty reports in connection with the aircraft have been filed over the years, but none involving the engines. In 2001, its landing gear would not retract after takeoff from Newark, but an override was used and a maintenance crew later found a leaking pressure line.

The United Airlines flight was operated by a Boeing 757. (Source: CNN)

NEWARK (WABC) -- A United flight flying from Newark International Airport to Berlin, Germany was sent back to Newark after a tire blew during take off causing problems in one of the planes engines. The plane landed safely back in Newark, just after 8:00 PM, Saturday.

Flight 96, a Boeing 757, carrying 173 passengers and crew reported a problem in an engine after it left New Jersey just before 6:00 PM.

As a precaution the flight returned to Newark. After an estimated landing time of 7:40pm Saturday, it's landing was rescheduled for 8:30pm by the FAA, as the flight needed to burn off more fuel.

It is still unclear if passengers will have to find another flight.

United just released a statement:
"United flight 96, operating between Newark and Berlin, returned to Newark this afternoon after the Boeing 757 experienced a mechanical issue with an engine. The crew followed standard procedures in returning to Newark, where the airplane landed safely. Meanwhile, we are working to re-accommodate the customers to their final destinations."

New York (CNN) -- A Berlin-bound United Airlines flight returned Saturday night to Newark Liberty International Airport after an engine problem developed during or right after takeoff, officials said.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames spewing from the left engine.

A tire blew during takeoff and flew into an engine, FBI spokeswoman Barbara Woodruff said. The Federal Aviation Administration said it could not confirm that.

Flight 96 circled the airport and burned fuel for more than an hour before landing at 8:05 p.m., according to the FAA. United described it as a "mechanical issue."

The crew of the Boeing 757 reported a problem after it left New Jersey for Berlin, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. The engine was operating properly before it landed, she told CNN.

Eyewitness Keisha Thomas, who was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike, said she witnessed fireballs near a wing shortly after the plane took off.

Thomas heard a loud sound, describing it as "pow, pow, pow." The plane was circling the airport, she said.

Djenaba Johnson-Jones, who lives across the river from the airport, said she heard an unusual noise and saw fire, but not smoke, coming from the aircraft's left engine.

Eyewitness Dennis Ostolaza said he heard a "propeller sound" akin to a military helicopter as the plane gained altitude after takeoff, with "black smoke and fire spitting out of the engine."

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