Delta Air Lines MD-88 Engine Falls Apart Mid Flight

A Delta Air Lines MD-88 was forced to shut down an engine yesterday flying from Atlanta to Baltimore. As a result of the engine failure incident, the aircraft diverted to Raleigh. The aircraft made a safe landing with no injuries reported.

Delta Air Lines MD-88 Engine Failure
A Delta Air Lines MD-88 was forced to divert following an engine failure. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia

Some Delta Air Lines passengers were in for a shock on Monday’s DL1425 flight from Atlanta to Baltimore. According to the AvHerald, the pilots of the aircraft received a possible engine issue indication, prompting their diversion. A video was shared on social media, which appears to be from the incident in question, shows that a part of the engine came off and got stuck in the engine inlet.

The flight

DL1425 is Delta Air Lines’ daily scheduled flight between Atlanta and Baltimore. The flight is scheduled to depart from Atlanta at 12:14. After just under two hours, the flight is then scheduled to arrive in Baltimore at 14:08. However, the flight time is typically 1-hour 20-minutes and 1 hour 30-minutes.

Yesterday, the flight departed Atlanta at 13:00, three-quarters of an hour late. However, while the flight got underway as normal, after around an hour of flight, the aircraft made a U-turn to the right and began to descend into the airport at Raleigh. This was due to an engine failure. Here the 148 passengers onboard the aircraft waited until a replacement aircraft arrived.

Featured Video:

Delta Air Lines MD-88 Engine Failure
The flight turned around and diverted to Raleigh. Image: FlightRadar24.com

A Delta Air Lines spokesperson told Simple Flying:

“The flight crew of Delta flight 1425 from Atlanta to Baltimore elected to divert to Raleigh, N.C. out of an abundance of caution after receiving an indication of an issue with one of the aircraft’s engines. The flight landed without incident and customers were reaccommodated on an alternate aircraft. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience this diversion may have caused.”

The MD-88

The aircraft involved in the engine failure incident yesterday was an MD-88. Registered in the US as N906DL, the aircraft itself is 32.4 years old according to AirFleets.net. In fact, the aircraft was delivered to Delta on 24th of April, 1987.

Delta Air Lines MD-88 Engine Failure
Delta Air Lines is in the process of retiring its MD-88s which have an average age of 28 years. Photo: Delta

The MD-88 is equipped with two Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines. While reports don’t elaborate which engine was involved in the failure, it would appear from information spreading on social media that it was the left-hand engine.

MD-88 retirement

Airlines are currently phasing out their MD-80 fleets. Late last month, Simple Flying reported that American Airlines has scheduled their last MD-80 flights for early September.

Delta Air Lines is also in the process of retiring their MD-88s and MD-90s. By the end of 2019, Delta plans to have taken 40 of 79 MD-88s out of service. The reason is that airlines are looking to introduce newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Additionally, the MD-88s are beginning to show their age.

Were you onboard DL1425? What do you make of the engine failure incident? Let us know in the comments.

25 comments
  1. Delta needs to follow Allegiant’s example and expedite the retirement of these dangerous, jaded wrecks!
    Maybe they can get a few A319s on short lease here and there until their A220s are delivered.

      1. That’s precisely the point: even Allegiant got their act together as regards expedited retirement of these MD wrecks, so what excuse does a reputable airline like Delta have?

        1. Allegiant has had more issues with their A320s than Delta with the MDs. Delta’s massive maintenance operation allows them to keep these flying. It doesn’t make sense for Delta to rent another type when they have the A220s arriving. They would also have to train the MD pilots for the A320 and then get them type rated again for the A220.

  2. The MD88/90 has served it’s purpose it is time for Delta to quit delaying the retirements of these planes. Many times I seen in Augusta where mechanics have been taking parts off one MD88 and putting it on another to get a flight out back to Atlanta. 30 year old plane doesn’t need to be in Delta’s fleet anymore.

  3. Well, the old ones can be landed safely even with major incidents while the modern ones tend to kill you when a tiny little incident occurs, so….

  4. Pilots were x military and did a great job keeping the plane flying until we landed. The stewardesses were very professional and explained the crash position to everyone and re-educated the passengers on emergency exits. The engine came apart at 30k feet and the plane shook very strongly for about 10 minutes then the shaking stopped. 5 minutes later it started shaking again. 25 minutes from the point the engine bearing went south until we were on the ground. It felt like 25 hours. People on the plane were really calm considering. I seriously thought we were going to crash when the plane was shaking so hard.

    1. I wasn’t on that flight, but I was on that airline and aircraft type three times in the post five days. Every single one suffered from brake chatter so bad it felt like the plane was doing to come apart, and that was just taxiing on the ground. They’re uncomfortable, tired old antiques that should be retired asap.

    2. Rick,

      I was on that flight as well. I couldn’t agree more, the pilots and crew did a great job keeping everyone educated on the next steps. The shaking was very unsettling but most people were fairly calm considering. It does seem like its time to put the MD-88 to bed.

      At least they hooked us up with all those sky miles…

  5. “The MD-88 is equipped with two Pratt & Whitney JT8D aircraft. ” – I had no idea that Pratt & Whitney manufactured ‘aircraft’….

  6. How old of an airplane to become unreliable? American Airlines loaded with debt buying new airplanes. Raise fares to buy new more fuel efficient and modern airplanes.

  7. A old neighbor I had when I was a kid built airplanes in his garage. One he built had a 12 cylinder rotary built by Pratt & Whitney in 1939.

    1. Been flying the mad dog for 11 years. Not one engine issue. I’ve also flown aircraft built in the 50’s. It’s not so much as how old the ship is…it’s how well it’s been looked after. Douglas aircraft are built like a Mack truck. Solid!!

      The brake chatter is inherent to the steel brakes. They chatter worse when hot or in need of adjustment. Right up there is pilot technique. You need to lead brake application and feather them as you slow.

      It may be old and outdated but it’s an honest airplane….times are changing though and it does need to be replaced. Fuel costs, more frequent maintenance, and new airspace requirements are dooming it.

      Looks like the fan section bearing went and the spinner separated. The stators kept it from passing through the engine. The bearing was red hot and one could see the blades rubbing on the acoustic liner.

      The vibrations will vary as the aircraft slows as the engine never stops spinning unless it seizes.

      1. I totally agree. I’d rather fly on a well looked after old plane, than a young plane that hadn’t been taken care of.

        1. There’s no such thing as a “young plane that hadn’t been taken care of.” in the US carrier fleet. All aircraft are maintained according to a strict scheduled monitored by the FAA. Aircraft are inspected very well, but eventually you get some part that breaks randomly because of age, or some wires that chafed through the insulation that cause big problems.

          Delta’s fleet is way to old. Last time I checked the average age was almost 18 years, compared to 10-12 to most airlines.

          Delta’s gotta dump the “Mad Dogs” very soon. AA is retiring them all this year. Those are to to biggies for that relic.

  8. I’m surprised it made it that far these dinosaurs should have been retired long ago, you’re really pressing you’re luck when you fly Delta anyway…

  9. As opposed to whom? Spirit, Allegiant, American, United? I’d rather fly Delta domestically than anyone I can think of. Just wish foreign carriers could fly domestic routes.

    Can you imagine how good an Emirates flight from NY to LA would be?

    1. I wish they would do some 5th freedom flights like that. I got to fly an A380 from Sydney to Auckland once that way. They were cheaper than Jetstar!

    2. Yes, please! Emirates A380 flights from Europe to the US would be a joy 🙂
      But the three legacy carriers in the US will vehemently ensure that that never happens 🙁

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