An Emirates Airline jet with 213 passengers aborted its takeoff from Melbourne Airport after one of its engines exploded during takeoff, officials said today. Nobody was injured.
Airport spokesman Geoffrey Conaghan said the Boeing 777-300 was charging halfway down the runway late Tuesday when flames began spewing out of the engine and takeoff was aborted.
Flight EK069 was heading for Dubai via Singapore when the engine exploded, strewing bits of metal over the main runway. Passengers said they saw flames shooting from the engine and smoke filled the cabin.
"It was an absolutely terrifying experience," British passenger Joanne Hume told television Channel Nine News. "I thought, 'My time is up.'"
The aircraft returned safely to the terminal and nobody was hurt, airport officials said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said a preliminary investigation indicated a fan blade may have come loose and been hurled back through the engine.
Cleanup crews working in darkness took several hours to remove debris from the runway. Other flights were diverted to the airport's second runway.
Emirate Airlines said the engine had not caught fire, but sparks and smoke belching from it may have looked like a fire to passengers.