In what must have been a very scary moment for passengers, a Philippine Airlines 777-300ER engine failed shortly after takeoff, sending flames spewing in the air over Los Angeles.
PAL Flight 113 took off on-time from Los Angeles International at 11:00AM on Thursday. As one passenger described it, the trouble began shortly after takeoff:
As soon as it lifted off the ground, we heard four large bangs. The right side, interior side engine blew up and was on fire.
— Big Red (@andrewblakeames) November 21, 2019
Fine. Classic engine failure; a compressor stall on an engine which results in a quick flame-out due to a small amount of unburned fuel vapor reaching the exhaust phase and igniting. This is common when engines experience compressor stalls and result in a loss of thrust.
But to dismiss this story as a routine engine failure really doesn’t speak to the absolute horror passengers, even experienced travelers, must have felt onboard.
Seriously, imagine you just hear the pilot or purser say, “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight” and then all of a sudden you hear four loud bangs, look out at the engine, and see fire. The story is not just about the objective danger passengers faced, but about the subjective fear they experienced on the basis of the engine failure.
After pilots radioed mayday, the aircraft returned to LAX, even before it dumped all its fuel onboard. With fuel still present and 342 passengers onboard, the landing blew the aircraft’s tires, though no injuries were reported.
One additional tidbit. It seems the flight attendants panicked as well. As one passenger told NBC 4 Los Angeles, “I know flight attendants aren’t supposed to panic, so at that point I’m like this is pretty serious.”
Philippine Airlines has not gone on the record yet to explain what may have caused the engine failure. Passengers were accommodated on other flights and the aircraft is grounded pending a detailed maintenance check and engine repair.
image: Adam Taylor / Facebook