It’s not ideal when your car engine konks out. It’s even less ideal when your plane engine shuts down mid-flight.
Plane engines being shut down are not uncommon occurrences. On an Air Canada flight, I took to Honolulu, I still remember realizing that the engine I was looking at had been turned off, some way before landing. I scanned the air hostesses to try and ascertain whether they were hiding fear behind their smiles, but they seemed happy enough, and I seemed to be the only nervous flyer who was worried that we were landing on fewer engines than we should have been.
On that particular flight, precautionary fire engines were lined up by the runway just in case the landing had been nasty, so maybe my fears weren’t entirely unfounded…
But that was then, and this is now, and this week, an American Airlines engine shut down on a flight from Paris to Miami. The flight was diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland.
The Boeing 777 plane reportedly lost power to its starboard engine around 2 hours after takeoff, and a general emergency was declared on board. The flight was forced to turn back over the Atlantic Ocean and head for Ireland.
The jet landed safely with its right-hand engine disabled but still intact. Shannon Airport Fire and Rescue Service came out “just in case,” and the engine was inspected for anything unusual or a fuel leak. No problem was found.
If you are a nervous flyer like me and want to avoid this particular plane for a few months, it was quite an old Boeing 777-223 (17 years old) with the serial number 30798.
My source for this news article was @FlightAlerts_ which is probably not a twitter feed you want to follow if you are a nervous flyer. You can see the American Airlines MAYDAY message!
It is worth knowing that if a plane loses one engine mid-flight, it is usually not a problem for the flight to get to the nearest airport. In the unlikely event that it loses both, the aircraft can still get to the ground safely with a decent pilot, if there is an airport nearby. Flying is statistically very, very safe.
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