Late on Thursday, an Atlas Air Boeing 747-8 cargo plane, carrying five crew members, was forced to make an emergency landing at Miami International Airport (MIA) due to an engine malfunction shortly after takeoff. Unverified videos circulating on the social media platform X depicted flames emanating from the aircraft’s left wing during flight. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, according to the airport.
Atlas Air stated that the crew adhered to standard procedures, ensuring a safe return to MIA. The air-freight company announced plans to conduct a thorough inspection to determine the cause of the malfunction. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed its intention to investigate the incident, while Boeing referred inquiries to Atlas Air.
Data from Flightradar24 revealed that the aircraft is eight years old, and it is a Boeing 747-8 model powered by four General Electric GEnx engines. As of now, General Electric (GE) has not provided any immediate comments. While engine failures are infrequent, they pose potential danger when rotating components breach the outer casing, known as an uncontained engine failure.
This incident follows two notable airplane accidents earlier in the year. A Japan Airlines-operated Airbus A350 collided with a Coast Guard aircraft in Tokyo, resulting in five crew members’ fatalities on January 2. Shortly afterward, a Boeing 737 MAX 9 experienced an emergency landing due to a cabin panel blowout, leading the FAA to temporarily ground 171 jets for safety checks.
The Atlas Air Flight 5Y095, en route from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, experienced the engine malfunction during its climb. The pilot issued a Mayday call around 0333 GMT, reporting an engine fire and requesting a return to the airport. The crew member specified that the incident involved engine number two and occurred “on the climb out” from the airport.
Atlas Air, a private air freight company whose clients include DHL and FedEx, transitioned to private ownership last year when it was acquired by a group led by private equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO.N). Once hailed as the “Queen of the Skies,” the Boeing 747, the world’s first twin-aisle wide-body jet, revolutionized air travel. However, advancements in technology allowed dual-engine jets to match its range and capacity at a lower cost, leading Boeing to cease 747 production in July 2020. Atlas Air received a freighter version of the last commercial Boeing 747 in the previous year.