Southwest Flight Forced to Make Emergency Landing After Engine Appears to Catch Fire

Feb 27, 2018

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A Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff when pilots noticed an engine issue. Southwest Flight 604 departed from Salt Lake City (SLC), bound for Los Angeles (LAX) on Monday. Only a few minutes after it was in the air, pilots recognized an engine issue, forcing the aircraft to turn around and make an emergency landing back at SLC.

According to Southwest, pilots became aware of a “performance issue” in the right engine of the Boeing 737-700 (registration N701GS) and chose to turn the aircraft around. Video taken from the ground catches what appear to be flames coming from the right engine, likely a compressor stall. Reddit user Ben McConkie noticed the flames after hearing “loud popping noises” from overhead.

I was walking into work this morning and heard some loud popping noises. I looked up and saw flames coming from this plane. from r/SaltLakeCity

The aircraft, with 100 passengers and five crewmembers on board, landed safely back at SLC after about 30 minutes in the air. According to ABC News, emergency crews that were waiting on the tarmac didn’t need to take any action.

One passenger said that loud popping noises were audible on board before the aircraft began to shake and lights in the cabin began flickering. The same passenger said that the crew maintained a calm environment inside the cabin.

Southwest said that all passengers on board were accommodated on a new aircraft, which arrived at LAX Monday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time an aircraft engine caught fire while ascending, likely the result of a compressor stall. Back in September 2017, I was on board Japan Airlines Flight 6, which was forced to make an emergency landing at Tokyo Haneda (HND) after an engine had failed on takeoff. From my window seat just behind the Boeing 777-300ER’s GE90 engine, I could see — and feel the heat of — the flames.

Featured image by Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images.

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