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PAL flight with 'bursts of flames' makes emergency landing in LA

A Philippine Airlines flight bound for Manila suffered an apparent engine failure on Friday (PHL time) shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles and made an emergency landing, authorities said.

Pilots of Flight 113 declared an emergency and reported a possible engine failure on the Boeing Co 777, Los Angeles International Airport said. A witness on the ground described "bursts of flames" coming out of an engine.

"Lahat po ng pasahero ng PR 113 ay safe and sound, and are currently being assisted in their rebooking and hotel accommodation," said PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

A PAL statement said the plane was carrying 342 passengers and 18 crew members.

The plane is a Boeing 777 which, according to Villaluna, is one of PAL's most modern aircraft.

"We affirm that safety is our top priority and that Philippine Airlines is fully cooperating with the concerned airport and aviation authorities," PAL said in its statement.

"We likewise recognize and appreciate the calm professionalism exhibited by our experienced flight and cabin crew, headed by Captain Triston Simeon and Purser Joanne Marie Dirige, in executing the unscheduled landing and taking care of our passengers," it added.

Intense investigation

In a separate interview with Villaluna later in the morning, she said the incident is "currently being subjected to an intense investigation because we view this as an isolated incident."

"This is one of a kind and we will get to the bottom of the matter," she told Dobol B sa News TV.

Villaluna said they will review the maintenance record and the circumstances that transpired prior to the incident.

At present, Villaluna said they are looking at all possibilities, including external factors.

"It could also be an external factor. Tinitignan ang possibility ng bird strike. So maraming tinitignang anggulo. Very difficult to pinpoint a certain reason or put the blame on anything. We are really looking into it," she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane returned and landed without incident. Television station ABC-7 in Los Angeles aired video of the plane after takeoff that showed flames and smoke coming out of the right engine.

The plane landed around 12 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) and was met by the Los Angeles Fire Department, the airport said. There has been no impact on other flights.

Boeing and General Electric, which makes the GE90 engine for the 777 twin-aisle jetliner, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The cause of the apparent engine failure was not immediately clear.

"You saw bursts of flames, little flames shooting out from the engine," said Andrew Ames, a 36-year-old fitness professional in Los Angeles, who watched as the plane ascended over the ocean after takeoff. "It almost looked like backfire flames from a motorcycle or car."

"I had never seen a plane spew flames repeatedly. Then it stopped. As soon as it stopped, I saw the plane bank left, like it was heading back to airport," Ames said.

While the cause of the apparent engine failure was not immediately clear, the incident came as Boeing faces intense scrutiny over twin deadly crashes involving its 737 MAX single-aisle jetliner. The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since March.  

In a Viber message to reporters, Villaluna said affected passengers were already rebooked to other airlines or with other flights of PAL.

"Twenty pax were rebooked on other airlines... [while] 62 pax will take PR 103 tomorrow, 130 pax will take PR 113/PR 103 on Saturday, and 126 pax will take PR 113/PR 103 on Sunday," she said.

"Those who need hotac (hotel accommodation) were given hotac," she added. —with Reuters/KBK/LDF, GMA News

Tags: pal, news