Engine Shutdown Forces KLM Boeing 737 Back To Amsterdam


On 1st January 2020, KLM crew brought a Boeing 737 back to Amsterdam after it suffered engine failure during ascent. The aircraft was on its way to Scotland when the incident occurred but the situation was handled without casualties. Here’s what we know.

PH-BGB on tarmac, take-off
KLM returned this aircraft to Amsterdam after an engine fire. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Operating on one engine

On 1st January 2020, a KLM aircraft registered PH-BGB was on its way to Glasgow in Scotland from Amsterdam when it came into difficulties, according to the Aviation Herald. The aircraft left Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 20:30 UTC with an estimated arrival time in Glasgow 22:00. However, as the aircraft was climbing after take-off, passengers heard a loud bang and noticed an unusual amount of shaking. It appeared that the right-hand engine was jettisoning flames.

PH-BGB suffered an engine failure on the way to Glasgow on 1st January 2020. Photo: Laurent ERRERA via Wikimedia Commons

Alerted to the incident, the crew aboard PH-BGB was able to shut down the engine at FL070 and return to Amsterdam. The pilot successfully navigated onto runway 18R where crews disembarked the plane.

Due to the swiftness of the operation, there were no casualties involved and the passengers were without an exorbitant delay. Crews deboarded the aircraft in Amsterdam and KLM secured a replacement shortly after.

Another 737-800, registered PH-BXI, operated the route from Amsterdam to Glasgow. It had an arrival time just two hours and 45 minutes later than the initial expected arrival time.

Where is the aircraft now?

According to the Aviation Herald, the aircraft was still on the ground in the Netherlands 24 hours after the incident. We contacted KLM for more information about the next steps for the aircraft and this is what it told us:


“The aircraft is being repaired and is scheduled to fly again today.”

However, the airline was unable to provide additional information as to what happened.

It is thought that the engine issues stemmed from a bird strike. At least, that’s what the pilot believed as the incident was occurring. Without official confirmation about the next steps for the aircraft, it is unclear how long the aircraft will remain grounded. In fact, every single incident of birdstrike is unique. That’s because the scale of damage is not the same across all aircraft.

PH-BGB, tarmac
Depending on the severity of the damage, PH-BGB could be under repair for some time. Photo: RHL Images via Wikimedia Commons

How severe was the birdstrike?

Speaking to MRO-Network, the Chief Engineer for Systems Design and Component Integration at Pratt & Whitney said that there are many areas where bird strikes can cause issues. Chris Kmetztold MRO-Network:

“When damage is found, it tends to be to the plastic flow path panels and wire mesh acoustic panels, which can become cracked, dented or torn in excess of allowable damage. Higher-impact forces—larger birds struck at higher speeds—can cause bends or cusps in the lead edges of the fan blades, which are the first engine components the bird encounters upon ingestion.” 

Whilst the KLM incident appeared to be more on the severe side, the airline has hastily been able to repair the aircraft. It could have been a lot worse. Had the crew not shut off the fire quick enough, it could have caused damage to the fuselage. As it is, the damage seems to have only been sustained to the right engine.

Have you ever been involved in a birdstrike with an aircraft? Let us know in the comments!