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Engine Falls Off USAir Jetliner Into N.J. Field; No One Is Hurt

December 06, 1987|Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — One engine fell off a twin-engine USAir Boeing 737 five minutes after takeoff Saturday on a flight to Boston, forcing the plane to return to Philadelphia International Airport, officials said.

The plane's right wing-mounted engine dropped 5,000 feet into a plowed farm field 155 feet from a house and 400 feet from a road in Deptford Township, N.J., near Sewell.

The 20-foot-long Pratt & Whitney engine, which weighs about 4,500 pounds, made a hole about two feet deep.

A passenger, Kelly Coville of Hingham, Mass., said the plane was swaying from side to side and that "it was very traumatic when we were up there."

Told to Study Exits

After the engine fell away, the five crew members told passengers to study emergency exits and how to use escape chutes if the plane should burst into flames on landing, Coville said.

No injuries were reported on the ground or on the plane.

The engine passed over several houses before it hit, Deptford Police Officer Joseph Hollingsworth said. "It was pretty lucky it didn't hit any houses," he said.

The pilot learned from a cockpit instrument that he had no power from the right engine and immediately turned back, said USAir spokesman David Shipley, adding that there was no panic when he told passengers of the power loss.

Watch Engine Drop Off

Coville said she was seated on the left side of the plane when passengers across the aisle saw the engine drop off.

"We were really just shocked," she said. "Initially you could see panic, but the attendants got control."

Shipley said the 19-minute flight "actually was very smooth," adding that no passengers on Flight 224 were shaken up. "This aircraft is perfectly capable of operating on one engine. No commercial aircraft can be flown unless it can operate under such conditions."

"There were no problems landing," an airport police official said. "It landed like it had six engines."

Passengers Offered Seats

The 60 passengers on board were offered seats on the next flight to Boston, Shipley said. Four declined the offer.

Federal Aviation Administration and airline officials were investigating the incident, Shipley said.

Investigators later will go over the aircraft's maintenance records, which Shipley said are available on the airline's computers.

In 1979, a wing-mounted engine fell off an American Airlines DC-10 taking off from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The plane crashed, killing 273 people.

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