A Delta Boeing 767 on its way from Anchorage to Atlanta landed at Sea-Tac on Thursday morning after flames “diverted out the tail pipe” of one engine.
A Delta Air Lines flight carrying 255 passengers from Anchorage to Atlanta made an unscheduled landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport early Thursday morning after an engine caught fire midflight.
The airliner, a Boeing 767, was able to land without incident, said Perry Cooper, a spokesman for Sea-Tac.
“Apparently, it had a fire in its No. 2 engine in flight. As the aircraft is designed, they (the pilots) turned it off. It was able to be extinguished in flight,” Cooper said.
KIRO 7 reported passengers were shaken by the incident. Some were able to see the fire from their windows, the station reported.
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“The flames were coming out. It was very scary and I was sitting with my two girls and just trying to keep them calm,” passenger Stephanie Woods told the TV station.
Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant said the flames were seen by passengers as a result of a power surge. The pilots throttled down because of the surge, he said, and the plane is designed to eject a fuel-and-air mixture from what looks like a tail pipe at the back of the engine.
“In this type of surge/ throttleback situation, that existing fuel mixture has to go somewhere,” Durrant said. “Instead of staying in the engine core itself and burning, it’s diverted out the tail pipe.”
The plane still had power and could have continued flying, he said, but with a long distance to travel, the pilots chose to divert the flight to Seattle.
At Sea-Tac, three airport rescue and firefighting vehicles were on hand when the plane touched down, which is standard for this type of landing, Cooper said.
From the airport’s perspective, “it was kind of uneventful. It wasn’t like the engine was on fire when it came down. We didn’t have to douse it,” Cooper said of the plane, which landed just before 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
“All things ended up well because of the backups and redundancies in flight. They’re designed to land with just one engine,” Cooper said.
Diversions to Sea-Tac are not uncommon. Cooper estimated the airport sees one or two flights a month diverted to Sea-Tac for a mechanical issue or medical problem.
Most of the time, Cooper said, the incident is a minor mechanical issue or a false alarm — the equivalent of the oil-check light going on in your car, Cooper said.
Durrant said an engine issue like the one passengers witnessed Thursday is rare.
“For a big airline like Delta, we have almost 1,500 flights a day. It might happen a handful of times a year,” he said.
All the passengers affected by the engine issue were rebooked Thursday morning, Durrant said.
Boeing declined to comment on the incident.