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American Airlines jet bursts into flames after bird strike, video circulating online

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
April 25, 2023

American Airlines flight 1958 taxied down the runway at John Glenn Columbus international Airport on its way to Phoenix, and shortly after takeoff, came back with an engine on fire.

The Boeing 737-800 took off at 7:43 a.m. on Sunday and ran into a flock of geese it was unable to avoid shortly after take-off. It returned to the Columbus airport at 8:22 a.m., according to the Daily Wire.

Passengers Marni Kallstad and Ryan Brink managed to maintain enough of a sense of calm that they were able to catch a short phone video of the flames shooting out of the plane's engine, according to the Daily Mail.

One fire engine was called to the scene, and no one was injured, according to the Miami Herald.

Fiery engine was seen by witnesses on the ground and on the plane

There were multiple witnesses on the ground who saw the low-flying plane and the blazing engine, according to WBNS.

Teddy Nemunaitis described how his morning went from typical to astonishing in seconds.

"I was just making my coffee this morning and I heard this loud sound outside. It sounded like a backfiring car, and I immediately ran on my balcony, looked up in the sky and saw this low-flying American Airlines jet with flames coming out of the engine," Nemunaitis told WCMH.

Passenger Matthew Danek told WBNS that he had come from a wedding in Columbus that he and his sister attended over the weekend. He was on his way to his home to Arizona.

Danek said he knew right away that something just didn't feel right on the plane.

"Genuinely, this is the first time in my life that I was ready to die,” said Danek. "There were extreme rumbling vibrations. The noise was deafening."

He happened to be looking out his window when the engine caught fire.

Danek said the blaze streaked behind the engine as the plane flew. He and the passengers around him stared in a stunned silence.

"Immediately the mood changed. Like everyone stopped talking. We all got quiet. We all kind of did that look around like 'You hearing this? You seeing this? We [are all] in this right now,'" Danek said.

Despite the frightening circumstances, Danek said the crew remained calm and projected the sense that they had the situation under control as they took quick action to land the plane.

"All the crew was absolutely amazing. The pilot was even, I dare say, funny during it. He had a good sense of humor. His poise was astounding,” he said.

Emergency preparedness is part of airline worker training 

Former aviation safety expert and accident investigator Shawn Pruchnicki said that pilots and crew train for these types of situations.

"This is something that airline crews train over and over again, under varying conditions, bad weather, daylight, nighttime, said Pruchnicki. "So regardless of why the engine failed, it's something that as a former airline pilot, it's something that we are very, very well trained to handle."

Pruchnicki added that the planes are actually capable of flying with only one engine in an emergency situation.

"All of these airplanes fly very, very well on a single engine. They're designed to do, so it's something that we practice quite extensively," he said.

According to WCMH, American Airlines released the following statement:

"American Airlines flight 1958, with service from Columbus (CMH) to Phoenix (PHX), returned to CMH shortly after takeoff due to a mechanical issue. The flight landed normally and taxied safely to the gate under its own power. The aircraft was taken out of service for maintenance and our team is working to get customers back on their way to PHX. Safety is our top priority and we thank our customers for their understanding."