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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Boeing 747 cargo plane makes emergency landing after engine failure

An Atlas Air cargo plane prepares to take off from the Miami International Airport in Miami in 2021. An Atlas Air Boeing 747-8 cargo plane made an emergency return to Miami late Thursday night after an engine failure.  (Chandan Khanna/AFP)
By Justine McDaniel Washington Post

A softball-sized hole was found above an engine of a Boeing 747 operated by cargo carrier Atlas Air after the plane experienced engine failure and made an emergency landing Thursday night in Miami.

The plane, which had a small crew and had been headed to Puerto Rico, experienced engine failure soon after takeoff from Miami International Airport. The flight left after 10 p.m., turned around, and landed less than an hour after departing, according to data from tracker FlightAware. No injuries were reported.

“The crew followed all standard procedures and safely returned” to the airport, an Atlas Air spokesperson said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear what caused the engine malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, spokespeople told the Washington Post. The FAA reported the hole above the second engine in its incident notice.

Witness video from Miami, broadcast on the city’s NBC station, showed a plane that appeared to be partially aflame flying through the sky. There was no fire when the plane landed, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told the Post.

The engine malfunction adds to the recent list of public problems for aerospace giant Boeing. In December, the company asked airlines to inspect its 737 Max jets for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system.

Little more than a week later, a door plug on a 737-9 Max blew out during a Jan. 5 Alaska Airlines flight, drawing public alarm. No one was killed; some passengers who are suing Boeing reported injuries such as bruises and bleeding ears.

Some 737-9 Maxes remain grounded pending inspection, and the NTSB and FAA are investigating the Jan. 5 accident. The FAA has planned an audit of Boeing’s 737-9 Max jet production line and its suppliers. The aerospace giant has pledged its own inspections, while airlines have also indicated plans to scrutinize safety.

Other incidents have since caught public attention: A Boeing 737-800 operated by All Nippon Airways turned around in Japan because of a crack in the windshield on Saturday. On Wednesday, a Boeing set to carry Secretary of State Antony Blinken home from Switzerland was grounded because of a “critical failure” related to an oxygen leak.

The 747-8, which was flown by Atlas Air on Thursday, uses four engines manufactured by GE Aerospace. Boeing said in a statement that the company would support the NTSB’s investigation into the Atlas Air incident, and it referred questions to GE Aerospace.

A GE spokesperson said the supplier was “providing technical assistance” to the federal agencies investigating the incident.