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It’s a terrifying situation; looking out the window of your flight to see flames licking out of one of your airplane’s engines. Of course, the technology in modern airplanes has made air travel much safer than driving. Statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to get into a car accident on the way to the airport than to experience something like engine failure in a commercial airliner. Unfortunately, that was the case with United Airlines flight 1118, which had to perform an emergency landing following its engine failure. 

An engine failure leading to a fire led to an emergency landing on United Airlines flight 1118

United Airlines flight 1118, which took off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) as planned, had to conduct an emergency landing shortly after take off. Just before 7:00 PM, as the aircraft was around 15 minutes into its two-hour flight, occupants noticed the port-side engine spit fire into the low light.  

It’s a harrowing thought. Fortunately, the aircrew “landed safely and the passengers deplaned normally,” said United Airlines. The New York Times reports that United Airlines “arranged for a new aircraft to take our customers to their destination” after the incident.

The aircraft, a Boeing 737-900, is a twin-engine application with a seating capacity of 189. Of course, regardless of number of engines, an engine failure would warrant an emergency landing. 

A United Airlines flight aboard a Boeing 737-900 shows off its wing.
A United Airlines 737-900 wing | KenRinger via iStock

Fortunately, no passengers or crewmembers sustained any injury in the event. However, the 737-900 does have a similar door plug design to the aircraft involved in the Alaska Airlines incident wherein an exit door flew off the aircraft mid-flight. Regardless, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting an investigation into the incident.