Flames and heavy black smoke poured from the side of an American Airlines jet that aborted takeoff and caught fire on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday, forcing 170 crew and passengers to evacuate and resulting in eight injuries, authorities said.
Pilots on American Airlines Flight 383 bound for Miami reported an engine-related mechanical issue, according to airline spokeswoman Leslie Scott. She said seven passengers and a flight attendant with minor injuries were taken to a hospital to be evaluated.
Passenger Sarah Ahmed told WLS-TV the plane was speeding down the runway when she heard an explosion and saw flames and black smoke. She said everyone on the right side of the aircraft jumped from their seats and moved to the left side.
“People are yelling, `Open the door! Open the door!’ Everyone’s screaming and jumping on top of each other to open the door,” Ahmed said. “Within that time, I think it was seven seconds, there was now smoke in the plane and the fire is right up against the windows, and it’s melting the windows.”
Footage from the scene showed the Boeing 767, which appeared to be damaged on its rear and along its right side, sitting on the runway with flames underneath and shooting from one side along with plumes of smoke. The right wing was drooping toward the ground and appeared to have partially melted.
Passengers came down emergency slides, hurrying across grass next to the runway as emergency vehicles surrounded the plane. Buses were sent to pick up the passengers and bring them back to the terminal, the airline said. The passengers were to be placed on another flight to Miami Friday evening.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the plane made an emergency stop around 2:35 p.m. after experiencing a problem during takeoff. An earlier FAA statement said the plane had blown a tire. The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation into the incident, with investigators expected to arrive on the scene Friday evening, spokesman Keith Holloway said.
The aircraft was built in 2003 and is among American’s youngest planes of that model. According to data from FlightGlobal, an aviation news and industry data company, at the start of this year the plane had flown more than 47,000 hours and made more than 7,500 cycles _ each takeoff and landing is one cycle. American is flying 767 aircraft that have more than 100,000 hours and 18,000 cycles.