CHICAGO – Sheer panic erupted on an American Airlines flight after part of the Boeing 767 went up in flames during takeoff at O’Hare Friday; luckily both passengers and crew escaped the aircraft with only minor injuries.
Gary Schiavone was flying to Miami with his wife to visit their daughter, sitting in row 31 near the back of the plane when he heard the explosion.
“First it was a clunk, after the clunk the explosion, and then the plane stopped real fast and we all started exiting,” Schiavone said. “Right now I just want to get home.”
American Airlines Flight 383 aborted takeoff due to an “engine-related mechanical issue,” the company said.
“You hear a loud blast on the right side people start screaming there was fire and smoke coming in,” said Hector Cardenas, who was sitting in the front of the plane.
As you can imagine, it was a bit chaotic evacuating the plane–but all 161 passengers, 9 crew members, and a dog–made it off safely in less than two minutes.
Within a minute and a half, fire crews were on scene and spraying foam on the flames, knowing right away how serious this situation was. And even fire officials admit it could have been devastating had that plane lifted off the ground.
“A plane just taking off, going to Miami, was fully-loaded with 43,000 pounds of fuel, a substantial amount of fuel on the aircraft, and it was leaking,” said CFD Chief Timothy Sampey.
20 people were transported to local hospitals. Of those adult patients, two had smoke inhalation–the rest ankle injuries and scrapes and bruises.
Some of them were able to get out on another flight to Miami Friday night, while others say they are traumatized and plan to reschedule their trips for some other time. Insofar as their luggage is concerned, officials aren’t sure if it’s salvageable.
A spokesperson for American Airlines released a statement saying:
American Airlines flight 383, a 767 bound for Miami, aborted take off due to an engine-related mechanical issue. The 161 passengers and 9 crew deplaned on the runway…
All passengers onboard flight 383 have been bused back to the terminal. Seven passengers and one flight attendant reported minor injuries and were transported to the hospital to be evaluated. We are taking care of our customers and crew and are re-accommodating our passengers on another flight to Miami this evening.
The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the incident.
A federal official told the Associated Press the plane suffered an ‘uncontained engine failure’.
That happens when engine parts break off and are spewed outside of it.
Commuters at O’Hare posted photos and videos of the scene to social media:
— Jose Castillo (@Kryptonlogic) October 28, 2016
Plane on fire on runway at O'Hare pic.twitter.com/0rmW2SqFYF
— Mike Lauletta (@mlauletta) October 28, 2016
This is a developing story. Check back here for more updates.