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United Airlines Boeing 777 Forced to Make Emergency Landing in Rome After Passengers See Streak of Flames From Engine

United Airlines Boeing 777 Forced to Make Emergency Landing in Rome After Passengers See Streak of Flames From Engine

a large airplane parked in front of a building

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 was forced to make an emergency diversion back to Rome Fiumicino International Airport just 30 minutes after departure from the Italian city after passengers heard a bang and saw a streak of flames from one of the plane’s two engines.

Flight UA885 departed Rome bound for Washington Dulles at around 11:20 am on Thursday and had climbed to a maximum altitude of just 3,700 feet when the left-hand Pratt & Witney engine suffered a compressor stall.

The pilots continued climbing to around 4,000 feet and entered a brief hold off the coast of central Italy before making an emergency landing back at FCO airport. Once on the ground, passengers onboard the plane say the aircraft was met by five fire trucks as well as police cars.

Rather than taxiing to a gate with a jetty, eyewitnesses say ground staff positioned air stairs to expedite the deplaning of everyone onto waiting buses.

The aircraft, which is nearly a quarter of a century old, remains on the ground in Rome following the incident, although passengers were accommodated on another aircraft that United had intended to use for its flight from Rome to San Francisco.

In a short statement, a spokesperson for United told us: “The flight safely returned to Rome, and we arranged for a different aircraft to take our customers to their destination.”

The incident is the latest in an increasingly long list of mishaps to have affected United in recent weeks. These include a March 8 incident in which the main landing gear of a United Boeing 737MAX-8 collapsed after the plane slid off the runway at Houston Intercontinental Airport and a March 7 accident when the tire fell off another Boeing 777 as it was departing San Francisco.

A week later, a 25-year-old United Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 145 passengers onboard lost an external fuselage panel mid-flight after departing San Francisco Airport.

Last month, United CEO Scott Kirby was forced to address the safety concerns head-on with an email sent en masse to the airline’s frequent flyers, saying that the recent slew of accidents had “sharpened” the carrier’s focus on safety.

The spate of accidents has also attracted the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which will increase oversight activity at the Chicago-based carrier.

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