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Boeing 747 engine catches fire, drops parts over the Netherlands, injuring 2

Katherine Khashimova Long, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE — A Boeing 747 jet engine exploded in midair Saturday over the Netherlands, dropping metal debris that injured two people, according to Dutch authorities.

The plane, a cargo jet operated by charter company Longtail Aviation, began experiencing engine problems shortly after it took off from the town of Maastricht in the Netherlands, bound for New York City, CNN reported.

Witnesses heard explosions, and air traffic control informed the pilot that one of the plane’s engines was on fire, according to Reuters. The plane scattered parts over the Dutch town of Meerssen, injuring two people and damaging property. One widely circulated photo of the destruction shows what appears to be a part of an engine blade wedged in the roof of a car like a knife stuck in a block of butter.

The plane made an emergency landing at Liege Airport, in Belgium.

The Boeing 747-400 freighter was powered by a smaller version of the same engines on the United Airlines Boeing 777 involved in a similar incident in Denver, also on Saturday, in which an engine exploded on a United Airlines flight bound for Honolulu, raining debris on Denver suburbs.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered immediate stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777-200 airplanes equipped with those engines, manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.


Following recommendations from Boeing, airlines in the U.S. and Japan on Sunday grounded 777 jets using older Pratt & Whitney engines. All 777s built since 2004 are powered exclusively by GE-90 engines.

Two other engine blowouts, on a United flight three years ago and a Japan Airlines jet in December, have occurred on planes with the same Pratt & Whitney engine.

Boeing has only recently emerged from the nearly two-year grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX jet after fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

A Boeing spokesperson referred questions about the company’s 747 planes to the Dutch Safety Board and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which are investigating the incident in the Netherlands.


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