An engine on a Pacific Southwest Airlines jetliner en route to Reno failed and hurled metal from its fans into the fuselage, forcing an emergency landing in Fresno, but all aboard escaped injury, officials said.
No emergency evacuation was required and there were no reports of injuries, although one chunk of the engine pierced the cabin at 25,000 feet and there was a minor loss of pressurization, PSA spokesman Bill Hastings said.
There were 83 passengers on the BAe146, a four-engine jet built by British Aerospace, which was en route from Los Angeles to Reno, when it was forced to turn back 50 miles north of Fresno and land at 8:07 p.m. Friday.
An engine piece pierced the upper part of the passenger cabin and came to rest in an overhead bin, while another was found smoldering in the baggage area, according to Gary Mucho, chief of the safety board's Los Angeles office.
Another chunk cracked a window.
"This was an uncontained engine failure that could have resulted in major damage," Mucho said. "It had a potential to start a major fire since hot metal parts could have pierced a fuel tank."
National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived here Saturday to inspect the engine.
Preliminary reports from PSA said it appears that pieces of the fan blade from the No. 3 engine broke off and were thrown through the side of the engine. Two half-inch holes were found Saturday by accident inspectors. There was no explosion, said Hastings, PSA's director of corporate communications in San Diego.
Normally, loose engine parts are thrown from the back of the engine where they cause no damage to the aircraft, Mucho said.
"This was very unusual. We just don't know why it happened," Hastings said.
Another plane was sent to Fresno to carry the passengers to Reno. They arrived there about 10 p.m., a little more than an hour late.
Besides a Los Angeles inspector, the safety board has asked an engine specialist from its headquarters in Washington to help with the investigation. A representative of engine manufacturer Avco-Lycoming is also expected to arrive this weekend, Mucho said.