**Update: 21/02/21 @ 06:00 UTC – Statement offered by Longtail Aviation included in article.**
A cargo plane departing Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST) lost metal parts as it took off to its New York destination. It appears that these fragments came from an engine failure, with sources noting that the aircraft involved is a Boeing 747-400. Sources also report that some people on the ground have been slightly injured while various cars and property were damaged as a result of the fragments coming down. The aircraft was diverted to Liege.
Update: Statement from Longtail Aviation
The following statement was offered by the firm operating the 747:
Shortly after departure the crew noticed an engine issue, and followed the correct procedures to investigate the problem. Resulting from this, the decision was made, with air traffic approval, to divert to Liege Airport, Belgium, where it landed safely.
Longtail Aviation has activated its Emergency Response Plan and is coordinating with all concerned parties.
“Our flight crew dealt with this situation professionally and in accordance with the correct aviation standards, resulting in a safe and uneventful landing,” said Martin Amick, Accountable Manager for Longtail Aviation. “We are now in the process of working closely with the Dutch, Belgian, Bermuda and UK authorities to understand the cause of this incident.”
What we know so far
According to Dutch website Up in the Sky, the flight involved was LGT5504 with a Boeing 747-400 freighter operated by Longtail Aviation. The 30-year-old aircraft is registered as VQ-BWT. Video taken and posted to Twitter shows the 747 emitting smoke above the skies of Meerssen – less than three kilometers from the Maastricht Aachen Airport runway.
— Robin Eygelshoven (@r_eygelshoven) February 20, 2021
NOS.nl reports that pieces of metal came down from the aircraft in the Meerssen area, adding that two people were hit by the debris, sustaining minor injuries. A woman was sent to the hospital with a head injury. Additionally, cars and homes were damaged, but at this point, the extent of the damage is unknown. Photos posted to Twitter also give us a closer view of the fragments and the damage they caused to vehicles.
In the post embedded below, you can see one fragment puncturing the roof of a car, indicating the very real danger these fragments could have been to anyone outside.
Longtail Aviation cargo 747 loses engine parts over Meerssen after failure on departure from Maastricht Airport in The Netherlands. Aircraft landed safely in Liege. https://t.co/b22hB9QgKF pic.twitter.com/NYps5GoBzT
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@breakingavnews) February 20, 2021
There is a suspicion that an object was ingested into the engine, causing damage to the turbine blades.
Taking off at around 16:10 CET, flight LGT5504 was bound for New York. However, due to losing an engine, the aircraft diverted. Flying on three engines, the 747 headed to nearby Liège (LGG) in Belgium, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
The Dutch Safety Board has opened an investigation into the incident. As this is a developing story, more information will be included as it becomes available.
About Longtail Aviation
Longtail Aviation is a Bermuda-based charter company that offers private jet transport in addition to heavy cargo transportation services. For its cargo services, the company’s website notes that it provides the following with its two 747-400 freighters:
- Scheduled and unscheduled charter capabilities
- Access to main-deck cargo capacity
- Nose-door loading for oversized cargo and priority loading separate cargo compartments with temperature settings of between 4°C to 29°C
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According to Planespotters.net, Longtail has two 747-400 freighters in its fleet with another 747 on the way, which is listed as a Combi (747-400M). The two are registered as VQ-BWS and VQ-BWT and listed as leases from UAE-based company Aquiline International.
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