Exclusive photos show charred damage from O'Hare plane fire


Chuck Goudie Image
Monday, October 31, 2016
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New photos show the extensive damage to an American Airlines jetliner after a plane fire at O'Hare International Airport on Friday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dramatic photos obtained exclusively by the I-Team of Friday's plane fire at O'Hare International Airport show that the damage and danger was far more serious than it first appeared.

When the American Airlines plane fire first happened, pictures surfaced from the left side of the plane. The new photos show the view from the other side, where the engine was actually on fire.

The close-up photos show why a Chicago fire official said Friday that this could have been absolutely devastating.


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The right-side wing of the Boeing 767 is a charred scramble of metal. The fuel lines melted away.

The pictures were taken at the scene of the incident by an O'Hare employee, who provided them to the I-Team. The Miami-bound jetliner came to rest after the jolting fire broke out as it was rolling toward take off.

"An examination of the engine has revealed that the stage 2 disk of the high pressure turbine failed," said Lorenda Ward, a senior investigator with the National Transportation & Safety Board.

Federal air safety investigators don't know why the failure occurred, but the damage to the American jetliner is extensive.

The windows were melting as 161 passengers on board scrambled for safety followed by the crew of nine.

This isn't the first time there have been problems with General Electric jet engines.

Three previous incidents lead some experts to suggest the Federal Aviation Administration needs to take a closer look.

"In these three incidents, they involve different models which leads us to believe this may be a reoccurring issue with GE engines, specificity GE jet engines," said attorney Alexandra Wisner.

Federal records show there have been several voluntary safety notices for this equipment since 2000.

The plane has now been relocated from the runway to a hangar at O'Hare, where NTSB inspectors are going over the burned pieces of the plane.

As the I-Team reported Friday night, pieces of the high-pressure turbine engine flew more than a quarter-mile, including into a UPS facility at O'Hare. That chunk of metal and others are being sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., along with the so-called "black box" data recorder.

Twenty passengers sustained injuries, most coming down the evacuation slide. No one was injured in the actual fire -- a testament to fast work by the cockpit crew and flight attendants.

A GE spokesman said that the engine has more than 400 million flight hours and a record of industry-leading levels of reliability.