The plane's engine spewed fire in the sky, suspected of hitting a bird

The Boeing 737-800 plane’s engine burst into flames after taking off from Queenstown, apparently colliding with a bird, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

Virgin Australia flight VA148, traveling from New Zealand’s Queenstown airport to Melbourne, had to divert and make an emergency landing on the night of June 17 after the pilot discovered the engine erupting into flames shortly after the crash. take off.

The Boeing 737-800 carrying 67 passengers and a crew of six landed safely about 50 minutes later in Invercargill, about 150km from Queenstown, where firefighters waited on the runway.

Boeing 737-800 plane had an engine fire after taking off from Queenstown, New Zealand, on the night of June 17. Video: NZ Herald

Michael Hayward, a passenger on the flight, said he heard a loud crash about 10 seconds after takeoff. Immediately afterward, he saw fire erupt in the right engine of the plane.

“I could see flames coming out of the engine, each time a short distance apart. At first everyone was scared, but then we understood the situation was still under control and calmly waited,” Hayward said. tell the station ABC of Australia, adding that the captain reported that the plane collided with a flock of birds.

Glen Sowry, managing director of Queenstown Airport, said the plane may have collided with a bird during takeoff. “However, until engineers at Innvercarrgill complete testing the engine, we cannot be certain,” he said.

Airplanes hitting birds are a common type of incident in the aviation industry and most do not lead to serious consequences. The US recorded more than 17,000 incidents of aircraft hitting birds at 753 airports across the country in 2019. Engines are the most frequently damaged part of passenger aircraft in such incidents.

However, Sowry said these incidents were rare at Queenstown, as airport management regularly implemented measures to limit bird concentrations near the take-off area. The probability of this incident in the New Zealand aviation industry is approximately 4 incidents per 10,000 flights.

By Editor

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