More than 300 stranded passengers were being rerouted Wednesday while officials investigated why an engine on a Hong Kong-bound jumbo jet failed during takeoff the night before at Los Angeles International Airport, forcing an emergency landing.
Several people on the ground saw sparks and flames shooting from one of the four engines of the Cathay Pacific Boeing B-747-400 as it departed at 10:52 p.m. Tuesday. The plane landed safely back at LAX half an hour later.
Preliminary evidence suggested a blade failure in the engine, Cathay spokeswoman Frances Horner said Wednesday. “With sparks coming out, it looks pretty spectacular at night,” she said.
The flight was canceled and passengers were sent to local hotels. About 100 were placed on other flights Wednesday morning, with the rest scheduled to leave last night and today, Horner said.
Cathay Pacific Airways officials are working with Rolls-Royce, the engine manufacturer, to determine why the engine failed. The Federal Aviation Administration was immediately alerted.
The pilot learned of the problem from an instrument indicator, shut down the engine, informed passengers of the situation and told them of the plan to return to the airport, Horner said. The planes are designed to fly on three engines if necessary.
Before approaching, the pilot dumped fuel over the ocean so the plane would be light enough to meet weight requirements for landing.
City fire crews were standing by, but the landing was uneventful, Fire Department spokesman Bob Collis said.