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A United Airlines flight departing New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on Tuesday was forced to divert to Newark (EWR) after a mechanical problem with the aircraft came about shortly after takeoff.

Officials told WABC that UA Flight 657 “radioed about a compression issue” just after the Boeing 737-800 took off for Houston (IAH) from LGA.

UA 657
UA 657’s flight path from FlightRadar24.

United isn’t saying what the exact problem was, but a “compression issue” could mean a compressor stall in the engine. A compressor stall occurs when there’s an airflow disruption into the engine compressor. Air flow can be interrupted by a foreign object, like a bird, broken compressor or turbine blades, engine deterioration, extreme pitch or yaw movements or throttle movements, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Another United flight heading from San Francisco (SFO) to Sydney (SYD) in July also suffered a suspected compressor stall when one engine on the Boeing 787-9 caught fire shortly after takeoff. Passengers on board that flight, UA Flight 863, reported hearing two loud noises and seeing two large sparks about 30 minutes after the aircraft took off from SFO.

Similarly, passengers on board Tuesday’s United flight reported on aviation forum that they heard two loud bangs when the incident began. One passenger wrote: “Anyone else on that flight? 2 loud BANGS when we took off. Right engine partial failure sounds like. We diverted to EWR. Don’t scare easily but that was scary.”

The plane landed safely at Newark, and there were no injuries.

“United flight 657 traveling from LaGuardia to Houston diverted to Newark Liberty International Airport due to a mechanical issue,” the airline told TPG in an emailed statement.  “The flight landed without incident and passengers departed for Houston on a different aircraft. We apologize to our passengers for the inconvenience.”

TPG’s Emily McNutt experienced a compressor stall on a Japan Airlines flight last year. From her window seat, she said “flames were streaming in front of my face,” when the surge occurred. “Every two to three seconds, the engine on my side would spew out flames, accompanied by a sound that echoed like a loud blast and a jolting motion,” she wrote.

Featured image by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.

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