Passengers aboard an airplane headed towards takeoff got a huge scare when their plane suffered a mechanical malfunction at Chicago’s Midway Airport last night.
Bound for Boston, Southwest Airlines Flight 3299 was already bowling down the runway when the plane’s right engine burst into flames, passengers said.
“I heard a huge explosion sound, like a boom, I could feel the vibration, rocketing through my whole body,” passenger Stephen Calabrese told ABC News.
The pilot aborted, and no one was injured. Still, several ambulances and fire engines were dispatched to the tarmac.
The plane’s 143 passengers were evacuated, and the aircraft was taken out of service and is currently being assessed by a maintenance team, according to Southwest.
“The safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority,” Southwest said in a statement to ABC News today.
The passengers were transported to Boston’s Logan International Airport by another aircraft. They arrived around 4 a.m. -- safe, but shaken.
“It was the worst night of my life,” Calabrese said. “The pilot did the right thing, he cut the power, he cut the fuel, and he told me that the fire flamed out inside the engine, rather than spread through the fuel line.”
According to former pilot and ABC News aviation consultant Steve Ganyard, these types of engine fires are rare but “fairly safe.”
If contained, the fire “will go out on its own,” he said, adding that the flames may have been caused by runway debris that was “sucked up into the engine.”