A Kalitta Air Boeing 747 cargo aircraft has been snapped emitting an impressive burst of flame from the back of its number three engine. The aircraft was landing in East Midlands Airport in the UK from Leipzig in Germany when the incident occurred. Despite the dramatic photograph, the aircraft and its occupants were unharmed by the event.
Kalitta 747 lands with a bang
Cargo carrier Kalitta Air is a regular at East Midlands Airport in the UK. Data from RadarBox.com shows that the airline’s cargo planes touch down on average 1.4 times per day, making EMA the airline’s 25th most visited destination. Most frequently flown into the airport is Kalitta’s Boeing 747-400, of which it has 24.
One of its 747-400s, registered N741KC, was performing flight K4-330 from Leipzig in Germany to East Midlands Airport yesterday. This is typically a tag flight between Leipzig and Los Angeles, with EMA providing a brief stop for cargo exchanges before the aircraft continues on to the USA. The Boeing 747 typically spends just a couple of hours on the ground in the UK before taking off again for Los Angeles.
But yesterday’s flight did not end up making its final leg to the US. As the aircraft approached EMA, buffeted by high winds and in heavy rain, it made a safe, if slightly crabby, landing on the runway. But as it engaged its reverse thrusters, the number three engine suffered a compressor stall, emitting a momentary burst of flame from the back.
The moment was caught on camera by local spotter Tony Johnson. Tony commented that he thought the engine ingested something on landing, which could have been a bird or debris on the runway. He noted that the aircraft emitted a loud bang at the moment of the event.
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Too much drama?
Naturally, the UK press has jumped all over the image, making the incident seem far more dramatic than it actually was. “Cargo jet bursts into flames,” cries the Daily Mail, while the Mirror goes so far as to call it a “botched landing.” None of this is true. Although the image is a stellar capture by the photographer, the compressor stall was actually just a fleeting moment of drama.
The landing can be seen in the video below, which demonstrates how brief and minor the flame event was:
While it will require some inspection to determine the cause of the flameout, the assertion that it was a bird or foreign object ingestion would tally up. It could also have been an engine fault, exacerbated by the application of the reverse thrusters. Of course, this will be for the engineers to figure out.
It’s a blow for Kalitta, as the 747 is still on the ground in EMA, reportedly with its engine covers open. Right now, it’s a very busy time for cargo movers, with Kalitta operating 45% more flights this month than it did in 2019. The loss of one of its Queens will be disruptive to its busy schedule. Hopefully it will be back in the air soon.