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Plane Engine Goes on Fire During Flight

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On May 15, 2024, a Garuda Indonesia Boeing aircraft was compelled to execute an emergency landing after one of its engines ignited shortly post takeoff.

The incident transpired on flight GA-1105, which was transporting 468 passengers, many of whom were en route to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, along with 18 crew members. The aircraft had taken off from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, Indonesia, heading for Medina, Saudi Arabia.

As per Garuda Indonesia, flames were seen erupting from the aircraft’s number four engine, positioned on the outboard right wing, just as the aircraft started its climb. Videos shared on social media showed the sight of orange flames trailing from the engine, inciting instant concern among those on the aircraft and spectators on the ground.

“The decision was made by the pilot in command immediately after takeoff, considering engine problems that required further examination after sparks of fire were observed in one of the engines,” said Irfan Setiaputra, president-director of Garuda Indonesia. The aircraft safely returned to Makassar, leading to the safe evacuation of all passengers and crew.

The swift and composed response of the crew was vital in averting what could have escalated into a disastrous event. Demonstrating their training and adherence to safety procedures, the pilots climbed to a safe altitude before returning to Makassar. This tactic ensured the aircraft could land safely, reducing the risk to those onboard.

Passengers were offered accommodations and subsequently rebooked on different flights to continue their voyage to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the aircraft was kept grounded for a comprehensive investigation into the engine fire’s cause. The engine under scrutiny was identified as a Pratt & Whitney PW4056, a model recently in the spotlight due to several similar occurrences.

This occurrence adds to Boeing’s existing list of safety issues. The manufacturer has encountered a series of mechanical failures and incidents involving different aircraft models, resulting in increased analysis and inquiries. Earlier this year, an Alaska Airlines flight experienced a door plug blowout at 16,000 feet, and a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 veered off the runway in Houston, Texas due to a gear collapse.

The continuous issues have not only sparked safety concerns but have also led to an aircraft shortage. This shortage threatens to disrupt many travel plans, particularly with the summer travel season looming. “Airlines are desperate for aircraft because of the production problems but the well is dry,” stated Gediminas Ziemelis, chairman of Avia Solutions, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company. He anticipates many airlines will be forced to cancel routes and reduce their summer services due to the shortage.

The aviation industry and regulatory authorities persist in monitoring and investigating these incidents to ensure passenger safety and prevent future events. As investigations into the Garuda Indonesia flight proceed, passengers and airlines alike remain vigilant, hoping for quick and effective resolutions to the ongoing issues affecting Boeing aircraft.

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