Passengers on a Qantas jet heading to Australia from the US had a scare when they saw sparks flying from a large orange ball in one of the engines.
The problem on the Boeing 747 began about 15 minutes into the flight. The sparks burnt a hole in the metal shell around the engine.
“Whoo, there’s a big one. I don’t know that this is good,” said one passenger, rather understating the situation as it was filmed on amateur video.
“Ladies and gentlemen. As you can appreciate, we’re just a tad busy on the flight deck at the moment,” said the pilot calmly over the intercom.
“In the meantime, you must be assured that we are trained for this situation. Normally we do it in a simulator of course,” he added.
The crew shut the engine down and asked for priority clearance to return to San Francisco.
An hour or so later Qantas flight 74 landed safely to everyone’s relief.
“I just wanted it to stop but it continued for about 20 minutes,” said one female passenger.
Another woman said: “I thought they’re prepared for all that sort of thing, so I just sat there and I suppose said a little prayer like everybody else.”
A Qantas spokesman said there was no fire, even though what passengers saw might have looked like flames. The airline believes this was the first engine failure of its kind on this type of plane.
Qantas put the passengers up in hotels for the night before trying again to fly them to Sydney – slightly less eventfully.