A United Airlines flight was forced to land shortly after takeoff after one of its engines exploded.
United Airlines Flight 2397 was scheduled to depart Fort Myers, Florida for Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Wednesday morning. The flight was supposed to be a relatively short one, the kind typically flown by business commuters and tourists alike.
At 12:12 PM, the Airbus A320 had passed all its pre-flight checklists and was taxiing down the runway with 79 passengers on board. Forty-five minutes later, the Airbus would return to Fort Myers airport with the same number of passengers, but some might have a newfound appreciation for life.
Shortly after takeoff, one of the engines on the Airbus A320 exploded. Cliff Maloney, a passenger on the flight, told USA Today that it sounded like a "loud banging noise" just outside his window.
"And then, all of a sudden, you hear the engine. There's not enough sound or power."
The sudden loss of an engine is always a dangerous occurrence for an aircraft, but since the Airbus was still climbing it was especially alarming. Without sufficient power, the A320 was in danger of stalling and plummeting back down to Earth.
The entire cabin knew that something was wrong, with several standing upward in alarm. "Everything kind of rushes to your head. You're kind of in this hopeless situation. Nobody knows what to do."
But there was one person who knew exactly what to do: the pilot. After leveling the craft (which took roughly a minute) he calmly reported over the intercom that one of the plan’s turbines had catastrophically failed. "Ladies and gentlemen, we've had an engine failure," he said before announcing that the Airbus would be redirecting back to Fort Myers for an emergency landing.
Cliff tried to call his fiance, but there was no cellular service on his flight.
The rest of the flight back to Fort Myers was understandably tense, but the flight crew kept passengers calm and the pilot made the landing without any issue. "The landing was great," Cliff said in his interview. "I was really impressed with the captain."
He was so impressed that he simply had to take a selfie with the pilot after the passengers had disembarked.
United Airlines is still inspecting the craft to see just what caused the engine failure.