Jet with flaming engine returns safely to LA airport

A Philippine Airlines jet with flames spurting from one engine has returned safely to Los Angeles International Airport shortly after takeoff

LOS ANGELES -- A Philippine Airlines jet with flames spurting from one engine returned safely to Los Angeles International Airport just after takeoff Thursday.

“All 342 passengers and 18 crew members are safe and were able to disembark from the airplane using regular airstairs,” Philippine Airlines said in a statement.

However, it wasn’t immediately clear when they might board other flights.

Passengers and people on the ground videotaped repeated blasts of flame coming from the right engine of the Boeing 777 minutes after takeoff.

“I could see, like, flashes of light. I thought it was ... just from the sunlight and then I just started hearing, like ‘boom, boom, boom,’” passenger Walter Baumann told KABC-TV. “And then I look out of the window and these balls of fire are just shooting out of the engine.”

Andrew Ames was a passenger in a car speeding down a freeway near the airport when he got a video of the plane.

“The back was spewing fire bolts,” he said. “It looked like when you see a backfire from a motorcycle. Then I thought, ‘I don’t think a plane is supposed to do that.’”

“It went on for about 20 seconds of repeated fire and then it just stopped and I saw the plane start to veer hard to the left more than normal,” Ames said. “It looked like it was turning around.”

The tower reported that the plane was “at emergency with an engine out.”

An air traffic controller observed a “compressor stall” on the plane and told a Skywest aircraft on the ground to turn.

“I’m sure you saw, but the engine on that traffic ahead and to your left had some flames coming out of it, so we are getting you out of the way of it,” the controller said, according to, an independent website that records and plays communications between pilots and towers at many airports.

There were no flames showing from the plane when it landed but firefighters were on hand as a precaution, airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said.

The fire team did hose down some of the heated plane wheels as a precaution.


Brian Skoloff in Phoenix, Arizona and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this story.