Earlier this week, a KLM Boeing 777-300ER experienced an engine failure about a hour after takeoff, forcing a hasty return to Amsterdam. At this point, it is not clear what prompted the engine failure.
KLM 777-300ER Bound For São Paulo Experiences Engine Failure After Takeoff
As noted by The Aviation Herald, on May 9, 2023, KLM flight 791 took off from Amsterdam (AMS) enroute for São Paulo, Brazil (GRU). During the initial climb, engine number one (the left engine) began to vibrate, though it was within an acceptable range. The flight climbed to 30,000 feet and proceeded across the English Channel and into English airspace.
Suddenly, the left engine failed. The flight turned around somewhere over Bristol, descended to 17,000 feet, and returned to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, where it landed safely. No injures were reported.
You might wonder why the aircraft returned all the way to Amsterdam when it could have diverted to a number of closer airports in England. The answer is three-fold. First, there were logistical concerns. KLM’s base is at AMS and it is from there KLM can best repair aircraft, obtain replacement aircraft, and offer other flight options to passengers. Second, and even more importantly, the lack of emergency landing demonstrates how safe the flight crew felt operating wtih only one engine. Yes, a plane can operate (and indeed, operate a great distance) on only one engine. Continuing to São Paulo would have been foolish, but the risk of losing the second engine was deemed low enough that the captain chose to go back. Finally, the aircraft had to dump fuel before landing, which took time.
The 777, registered under PH-BVR, is about eight years old. It is not clear what caused the engine failure, but the aircraft remains grounded in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, a replacement 777 was dispatched and KL791 departed for São Paulo once again in a new aircraft about six hours late.
A KLM 777-300ER returned to Amsterdam on Tuesday after an engine failure. KLM’s ETOPS-qualified 777 is specially designed to be able to operate with one engine if the other other goes out, so passengers were in little danger. Still, an engine failure is never something you want to experince.