Flying is a frightening endeavor, and it’s hard not to think of all the things that can go wrong as you strap yourself into a seat and mutter a couple prayers under your breath before takeoff.
So when something goes wrong, even if it’s a little something, it can be a bit horrifying to behold. Take the footage that emerged Monday of an engine cover ripping off a plane in Chile. It’s enough to send shivers down the spine.
However, though the footage is unsettling, a pilot has told the Telegraph that the risk to the 137 people aboard the flight was minimal.
The plane in question was in the fleet of Sky Airlines, Chile’s second largest airline and frequent flier to Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia, the Daily Mail noted. It took off from the Chilean capital of Santiago for an hour-and-a-half hour journey to Capiapo Wednesday morning, United Press International reports.
It was a dark, rainy day for flying. Early on, takeoff of the Airbus A319-100 seemed to go off without a hitch — the plane sped down the runway, preparing to lift off, when suddenly, a piece of said plane ripped off the engine and went careening into the air.
The sight was captured on video by a passenger seated on the wing. His footage shows the plane continue its takeoff, lifting off into the air with its missing piece now scattering down the runway behind it.
This passenger and his fellows aboard don’t seem in the least bit alarmed. In fact, no one seems to panic nor, according to the video, notify anyone of the damage as the plane begins its flight to Capiapo.
Luckily, someone must have been informed, because the plane did in fact turn around and made an emergency landing back in Santiago only 25 minutes after its departure.
The passengers were then reassigned to other flights to continue their respective journeys, the plane sent off to a mechanic to get some much needed repairs.
To a layman without an intimate knowledge of planes, the footage appears to show the engine itself breaking apart. But the airline confirmed that a piece of the blue engine cover ripped off; they didn’t say the engine sustained any damage.
And even though the incident looked frightening, no one on the plane was in immediate danger. If the plane had stayed airborne, however, this story may have ended differently. Pilot and author Patrick Smith, who wrote a book called Cockpit Confidential, which dispels some myths about air travel, explained.
“A portion of the engine cowling became unlatched – because perhaps it was not latched properly to begin with, got caught in the windstream and was torn off. The cowling section itself is nothing immediately critical; it’s just a cover. You can compare it, maybe, to the (hood) that covers the engine in your car. Damage to the engine wasn’t the problem. The danger was in the piece striking some other portion of the airframe as it sheared away – namely the wings, the tail, or the aft stabilizers. An impact with the stabilizers, for example, could have been extremely hazardous. However, the slipstream lifted the piece well clear of these areas. From that point there was little or no danger.”
Passengers have filmed scary plane malfunctions before. Last September, someone had the camera rolling as flames erupted from the engine of a Transaero plane from Barcelona. A mere month later, a American Airlines flight to Dallas made an emergency landing after cracks were found in the cabin panels.
Also last year, a passenger on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to the Dominican Republic took pictures after the plane’s engine casing exploded, exposing the inside of the Boeing 737’s engine. The plane had to land when crew took notice of vibrations from the engine.
[Photos Courtesy YouTube Screengrabs]