We are reading information from The Aviation Herald that a KLM 747 suffered an engine failure on April 25th while departing from Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN). Flight KL856 was headed for Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS).
The flight departed with 270 passengers aboard and was forced to turn around when one of the engines failed and was emitting sparks. Fuel was dumped and the plane returned to Seoul for a safe landing 70 minutes after departure.
More about the plane
The plane, a 747-400 with registration PH-BFT also has the name “City of Tokyo”. This particular variant is more specifically a 747-406M which is a combi version. Combi 747s are half passenger airplane, half freight airplane and are used for routes with low passenger demand but have a high potential for cargo revenue. We actually wrote an article about it last year. KLM is currently the only airline still operating combi flights. It also remains one of the largest operators of the Boeing 747-400, next to British Airways and Lufthansa. This particular plane operates 4 x GE CF6-80C2B1F and entered into service May 1997.
The latest on PH-BFT
The aircraft was repaired and departed April 27th from Seoul at 12:55am local time, arriving in Amsterdam at 4:31am. We reached out to KLM for comment but have yet to receive a response. We’ll make a post in the comments section if we hear back from them.
How many engines are necessary?
Aircraft have been designed with safety as the highest priority. If an engine fails on a two-engine aircraft, the plane will still be able to fly, but at a lower altitude. It will definitely be able to make it to the nearest airport!
If an engine fails on a four-engine aircraft this is less of an issue. Flight Deck Friend recalls an incident of a Virgin Atlantic 747 suffering an engine failure over the United States. The plane was able to continue its journey over the Atlantic and on to its destination in the UK without any issue.
An article from Technology.org examines whether flying a 747 with one engine is possible. It uses the case of a British Airways flight in 1982. While over Indonesia, the 747 flew into a cloud of volcanic ashes, causing all four engines to shut off.
After some time one engine came back on. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, the 747 was not able to maintain altitude with one engine alone. Fortunately, in this case a second engine came back on eventually and the aircraft was able to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport.