Spirit Airlines fire stemmed from engine failure

Spirit Airlines fire on an Atlanta bound jet had an engine that sustained an especially serious type of engine failure, an NTSB official said Wednesday. The Spirit Airlines fire caused no injuries, and the plane made a safe emergency landing. 

Lynne Sladky/AP/File
A Spirit Airlines airplane sits on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A Spirit Airlines fire forced an Atlanta-bound jet to make an emergency landing Tuesday.

An engine on an Atlanta-bound Spirit Airlines jet where passengers said they heard an explosion and saw flames sustained an especially serious type of failure, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Wednesday.

Although originally characterized as an "uncontained" engine failure, the NTSB later reversed itself and said that, upon examination, the failure was contained and the engine casing wasn't pierced. A contained failure is less dangerous than an uncontained one because broken pieces and parts of the engine do not escape the outer engine housing and can't spray the fuselage with debris.

The plane returned to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Tuesday and landed safely.

Passenger Fred Edwards told WGCL-TV in Atlanta that he heard an explosion before flames came up the side of the plane, lighting up the interior of the Airbus A319. He and other passengers reported that smoke then filled the cabin.

Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said no injuries were reported. She said the captain received an indication of a "possible mechanical issue" shortly after takeoff from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. She said by email Wednesday that there was no fire, before adding later that Spirit is "actively investigating to confirm the specifics of what happened and the cause."

The passengers were placed on another Spirit jet for Atlanta later Tuesday.

Aircraft engines are designed to contain any broken pieces within the engine during a failure. That's because when parts are released, they often spray like shrapnel and cause severe damage to fuel lines, electrical cables, hydraulic lines and other critical aircraft systems.Airliners are capable of safely flying with only one engine if the other engine breaks down or has to be shut off, but damage from an uncontained engine failure can jeopardize the plane.

Despite the government shutdown, NTSB is recalling furloughed investigators to open an investigation of the incident, the agency official said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown confirmed the agency is investigating the incident as well.

[Update: The original headline to this story read "Spirit Airlines fire stemmed from 'uncontained' engine failure." The NTSB released a statement after this story first ran backtracking on that initial statement. The headline and the text have been updated to reflect that.]

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.