Cargo Jet Lands Safely After Dropping Engine Over Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An engine fell off a Boeing 747 cargo jet in severe turbulence, narrowly missing an apartment complex and a shopping mall.
The jet’s three other engines continued working and the plane landed safely Wednesday afternoon.
The cause of the incident was under investigation.
The Evergreen International Airlines mishap was the fourth time in the past 1 1/2 years that a Boeing 747 lost an engine. The worst came when an El Al cargo jet lost two engines in October and crashed into an Amsterdam apartment building, killing 43 people.
Boeing Co. spokesman Brian Ames said the engine fell after the plane hit heavy turbulence following takeoff.
Paul Turk, an aviation consultant in Fairfax, Va., said it appeared the aircraft performed exactly as designed. A damaged engine is designed to break away to avoid tearing off the wing.
″Usually something happens in an engine to set off a catastrophic failure like that,″ Turk said.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing and Evergreen were expected at the site today.
Air Force fighter pilots getting ready to land nearby reported seeing the engine tear loose, along with part the left wing’s flaps.
The badly mangled engine landed in a densely populated part of the city, the largest chunk falling into snow between a shopping center and an apartment building, about 25 feet from the residential complex.
Authorities said parts of the engine and other wreckage fell onto several streets, and at least two fragments hit homes. No one on the ground or among the plane’s three-member crew was hurt.
After the El Al crash, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered airlines to replace the four pins that hold each engine to the wing. It wasn’t immediately known whether Evergreen had replaced the pins, but Ames said initial evidence didn’t indicate any pin problems.
Evergreen, primarily a cargo hauler, is based in McMinnville, Ore. The jet was headed for Chicago. It was about 1,800 feet off the ground when the engine fell off, Anchorage International Airport officials said.
J. Alex Blossom, an apartment complex maintenance, was working about 15 feet from where the engine fell when he heard a noise, looked up and saw the engine separate from the aircraft.
″It was a boom and a whistle - it whistled like hell,″ he said. ″At first, I didn’t think anything of it. And then I realized it was coming toward us.″
Blossom and another handyman ran. They said they could feel pieces of sheet metal and flying snow hit their backs.