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Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing after Engine Bursts into Flames

Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing after Engine Bursts into Flames

An engine on a pre-dawn flight traveling from San Diego to Chicago burst into flames not long after takeoff on Monday, December 16, 2019. The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque.

A passenger onboard the airliner managed to video flames shooting out from the debilitated engine. The man evidently was only one of a few people awake at the time of the fire and initially aware what was going on. In addition to videoing the engine on fire, he tweeted about his experience:

“Strange to sit there & think ‘What if this is it?’ To just sit there & accept the potential fate that seems to be a possibility & not tell the sleeping people all around you. No need to panic the others. I’m a pretty calm person but took me a while to stop the shakes & trembles.”

Pilots on the United aircraft shut down the engine after the fire started, which did result in the flames going out. According to the passenger who witnessed the fire itself, the plane fairly rapidly lost altitude. He indicated about 10 minutes after the engine was shut down and the fire went out, the pilot announced to the cabin that the flight was being diverted to Albuquerque for landing. The pilot explained that the diverted landing was occurring because of a “mechanical issue with one of the engines.”

Evidently, all passengers and crew members deplaned in Albuquerque without injury or further incident. United advised that a replacement aircraft was being arranged for the passengers to take them from Albuquerque to their final destination in Chicago. United further announced that its maintenance team on the ground in Albuquerque were to inspect the aircraft to ascertain what went awry with the plane’s engine to cause it to ignite into flames.

In this instance, an incident that could have had catastrophic consequences was diverted. As noted, everyone onboard the United flight appears to have deplaned without any physical injuries. As a result of inflight events such as an engine catching on fire, even if no physical injurie are sustained by people onboard, the possibility does exist that some individuals understandably might face some sort of issue surrounding emotional distress.

Overall, travel by aircraft is considered relatively safe. Catastrophic accidents are less common on commercial aircraft than is the case with automobiles and even passenger trains. With that said, although catastrophic accidents of the kind that cause an aircraft to crash might not be particularly commonplace, injuries sustained while traveling on a commercial plane happen with surprising regularity.

An airline like United is obliged to exercise vigilance in regard to all aspects of aviation safety. This includes not only exercising reasonable care to ensure that nothing catastrophic happens during a flight but to otherwise keep passengers safe when boarding, deplaning, and traveling on an aircraft.

Every day passengers on commercial aircrafts sustain injuries while traveling, many times arising from some type of negligence of an airline, its flight crew, or its ground crew. These include injuries sustained while boarding an aircraft prior to a flight and deplaning upon arrival. There are also a multitude of examples of passengers being injured while inflight. These include slip and falls while using the aisle in an aircraft to collisions caused by food or beverage carts. Improperly maintained cabins can result in the spread of viruses and bacteria that result in individuals becoming inflicted with sometimes serious health issues.

Not only do airline passengers (or surviving family members) have important legal rights following a headline-grabbing catastrophic crash, people in this position have vital legal interests in the aftermath of injuries sustained when traveling via a commercial airliner. Commercial airlines are powerful enterprises with insurance companies that may aggressively fight a claim for compensation for injuries. In the grand scheme of things, both commercial airline and insurance companies are in business for one main reason and that primary purpose alone – to make money. Both airlines and insurance companies enhance their bottom lines by paying out less money on ever bona fide claims.

If you or a loved on have been injured while traveling on a commercial airline, the experienced aviation injury lawyer team at The Doan Law Firm, a nationwide law practice, stands ready to fight for you. You can reach the firm any time of the say or night by calling (800) 349-0000. An aviation injury lawyer from the firm will schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation for you at no cost.


The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. You’re never charged a fee unless an aviation injury lawyer wins for you.

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  1. After an accident, the responsible party's insurance company may try to reduce the claim amount. Commonly, insurance adjusters are trained to get information from the injured to assist in reducing the claim. Though some insurers are less guilty of this practice than others, it is important to realize that insurance companies are profit-oriented corporations and reducing claims results in increased profits for shareholders. This can create a situation for the injured in which they are offered a settlement that does not truly reflect the damages suffered. If you accept this settlement, you lose the ability to get more money should your injuries require further medical treatments. It is critical that victims get legal assistance in any personal injury case, and The Doan Law Firm is prepared to fight relentlessly for your rights.
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