Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 Suffers Uncontained Engine Failure

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 has suffered an engine failure when taking off from Dakar airport en route to Addis Ababa. The flight crew was able to salvage the situation and land the plane successfully, with all passengers and crew escaping unscathed.

Ethiopian
An Ethiopian Boeing 767. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

What are the details?

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET908 was inbound to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian’s hub) when the Boeing 767 suffered a sudden uncontained engine failure, as reported by Aero News.

The shocking part of that sentence is the ‘uncontained’ part. Generally, when an aircraft suffers engine failure, the resulting problems are contained within the engine. This might be a fuel leak, friction burns or an electrical problem, but generally does not harm the passengers or the main fuselage. Parts of the engine might break off, but they don’t leave the engine container.

However, an ‘uncontained’ engine failure is when the engine begins to break up. Fragments of parts can exit the engine casing. This is clearly far more serious and incident, posing danger to both the passengers on board and people on the ground.

The aircraft had just started its initial ascent from Dakar Blaise Diagne (Senegal) to Bamako (Mali) with 90 souls on board when reportedly the right-hand engine caught on fire. One passenger remarked to The Aviation Herald that they heard a loud noise and then the air conditioners started to spew smoke into the cabin.

Fortunately, in this case, the pilot and his team were able to turn the plane around and complete an emergency landing eight minutes later. The aircraft had enough power to vacate the runway and make it to a free taxiway.

Brave firefighters were able to put the blaze out and then passengers disembarked via stairs on the left doors.

INCIDENT / Looks like uncontained engine failure, Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER (ET-AMG), flight #ET908 to Bamako….

Posted by Aeronews on Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Video of the day:

What has been the airline’s response?

So far all we have heard from the airline is that the aircraft ‘suffered a mechanical problem’. It issued this statement via its Twitter feed.

The airport additionally reported to The Aviation Herald that they saw the engine on fire during the ascent.

Simple Flying has reached out to the airline for more details, but as of yet has not received a reply. At this stage, we don’t know for sure what caused the accident.

There have been some criticisms online about the actions of the pilot. Some complain that pilots took time to taxi off the runway (some suggest that they should have sat still and let the firefighters come to them) and others are upset that passengers had to wait for firefighters to finish the job before leaving the aircraft.

“The fire would have been obvious to the fire crew, ATC and probably cabin crew so it can’t have been a surprise to them. Can’t believe they did that…” – A commentator on The Aviation Herald.

What do you think? Did the cabin crew and pilots do the right thing? Let us know in the comments.

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P Nelson

Who made the engine? Don’t you think that that’s an important point?

Ian

After a precautionary or emergency landing …. whether to stay on the runway or vacate to a taxiway …. it is up to the the Tech Crew to decide the best place to stop and discharge the passengers. Circumstances will inevitably suggest what is best. However, if the ’emergency’ is over, and you can, taxying off the runway is generally favoured because it causes less disruption for the airport. Blocking a runway unnessarily could cause other flights to divert and hence spread the disruption(s) to others …. In this case if the emergency was over and no fire or other… Read more »

Bernie

The decision is solely that of the Captain.
Who are the “Tech. Crew” ?

Herb33

When reporting on engine failures it is important to name the engine. Boeing 757 can have either RR or PW, Boeing 767 GE,PW or RR, early 777 PW,GE or RR, A330 PW,GE or RR , 787 GE or RR, 380 Engine Alliance or RR, A320 CFM or IAE, A320 neo PW or CFM. Sometimes airlines may operate different engines on aircraft in their fleet; Lufthansa , for example , use CFM on A320 and IAE on A321 . Hope this shows it is meaningless to discuss aircraft without identifying engine.

Bernie

You must feel a lot better now.

Gerry Stumpe

At ease Bernie.

Dan Gradwohl

“Salvage the situation”

Poor choice of words I think……of course they were, they’re trained to do so!

sam

Without knowing full details of the incident it is premature to criticize the pilots for exiting the runway. But it brings to mind the terrible accident in Riyadh in 1980 in which 301 people died. The Tristar of Saudia was en route to Jeddah but returned to Riyadh with a fire on board. Instead of making an emergency stop and evacuating the plane, the pilot taxied the full length of the runway and came to a halt with two of the engines still running. The emergency services had to chase the plane but when it stopped they couldn’t get the… Read more »

Phixer

The Tristar fire was in a cargo hold; the B767 was an engine fire – away from the fuselage. None of us were present at this engine fire which may not have been as bad as reported. I would like to think that there was communication between the flight crew and fire crew on extent of the fire. Perhaps the wind direction predicated a turn off the runway. How much control the fire crew had on the situation may have suggested that the passengers were not in immediate danger, not forgetting that you don’t want passengers evacuating into the path… Read more »

Dr Hein Vandenbergh

There seems to be a lot of criticism here about the crew [‘tech crew’ = skipper and FO, by the way] to vacate the active runway. It is a well-established principle that, unless the fire is overwhelming, one may safely vacate in a direction so that the problem or ‘on fire’ engine is DOWNWIND from the fuselage. This poses no risks, and allows, should this deemed to be desirable, the occupants to vacate the a/c via emergency slides on the upwind side of the fuselage. Only time this is not advisable is in high winds, where deployment of slides on… Read more »