Reprinted from The New York Times
Written by Al Baker
A commercial jetliner suffered a loss of one of its two engines shortly after taking off from La Guardia Airport on Wednesday morning and was forced to make an emergency landing at Kennedy International Airport, officials said.
American Airlines Flight 309, an MD-80 bound for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, landed at Kennedy around 8:35 a.m. after losing a trail of metal parts, evidently from its No. 2 engine, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Some of the metal parts were reported to have fallen onto a rooftop of a commercial building in Queens.
There were 88 passengers and five crew members on board, said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the airline. No one was injured.
The flight departed La Guardia shortly after 8 a.m. As it climbed to its flying altitude, the crew reported hearing a loud noise, then told air-traffic controllers that its second engine had failed. A special crew of emergency responders rushed to the runway, bracing for the possibility of a crash landing or fire, as the plane landed safely at Runway 22 Right, according to Jim Peters, an F.A.A. official. The plane then taxied to the ramp.
Most of the engine parts, including a four-foot section, landed on the roof of a plumbing company’s building on 123rd Street, in College Point, Mr. Peters said. He said federal officials and officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had gone to the location.
“The F.A.A. sent guys over there to inspect it,” Mr. Peters said. “The Port Authority police sent a unit over there and are in the process of picking up the pieces and photographing them, and they will be brought over to La Guardia for inspection.”
A man who answered the phone at Varsity Plumbing and Heating, at 31-99 123rd Street, said he was there when debris landed on the roof.
“As far as I know, just something fell off the plane and landed on the roof,” said the man, who provided only his first name, Steve. “I don’t know what it was or how it happened.” He said that the business was in the regular flight path and that people there often heard the roar of planes overhead.
In addition, a police official said a piece of the plane’s engine landed on a car, and damaging it, in Queens.
Metal fragments that the engine threw off all came out the back end and not through its cowling, or engine cover. None hit the fuselage, officials said. Mr. Peters characterized the No. 2 engine failure as, “a contained engine failure, because all of the metal went out the rear of the engine; none of it went through the cowling.”
In similar emergencies, engine parts coming through the fuselage have killed passengers or caused crashes. Twin-engine airplanes must be able to complete a takeoff and return to land safely on a single engine.
From the perspective of a passenger sitting inside the cabin, the No. 2 engine is on the right rear side of the aircraft.
Officials said the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington had been notified of the emergency landing, but Mr. Peters said it was unclear whether the safety board would come to New York and formally begin an investigation.
Ms. Huguely said the passengers were bused back to La Guardia, “so that we could place them on other Chicago flights.”
The MD-80 commercial plane has a capacity for 136 or 140 passengers, depending on the configuration.
“There was a pilot, a co-pilot and three flight attendants,” said Ms. Huguely, of the airline, adding that she did not know their experience level.
She added, “Our crews are trained to handle situations such as these, and our pilots did a fantastic job in landing the aircraft safely.”