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United Airlines jet lands safely at Newark after engine trouble

August 18, 2012|By Laura J. Nelson
  • A United Airlines plane landed safely in Newark, N.J., after engine trouble during take-off.
A United Airlines plane landed safely in Newark, N.J., after engine trouble… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

A United Airlines flight with 173 passengers aboard made a safe landing at 8:05 p.m. eastern time Saturday at Newark Liberty International Airport after having engine trouble on takeoff, FAA officials said.

Flight 96 to Berlin radioed air traffic controllers to report trouble with the Boeing 757's left engine, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told the Times. She said the plane was operating normally at the time it landed.

The plane blew a tire and pieces of rubber were sucked into the plane's left engine shortly after takeoff, FBI special agent Barbara Woodruff told Newark-based the Star-Ledger.

United Airlines did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

The plane circled the Newark airport for more than an hour to burn fuel before landing, Brown said. Planes loaded with enough gasoline for an eight- to 10-hour transatlantic flight are too heavy to land immediately after takeoff.

Witnesses on the ground in said in a series of Twitter posts that they believed they saw flames at one point.

Keisha Thomas was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike when she looked up and saw flames, she said in a tweet. She said she heard a popping noise and saw smoke. Drivers stopped and watched. 

An FAA investigator will follow up on the incident, Brown said.

"Without knowing what exactly happened, it’s hard to say how frequently this happens," Brown said. "But jet engines are incredibly reliable."

Between 35,000 and 40,000 flights take off the United States each day, according to the FAA.

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 Follow Laura on Twitter. Email: laura.nelson@latimes.com

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