Plane engine catches fire at Chicago O'Hare Airport, FAA says

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team and Liz Nagy WLS logo
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Plane engine catches fire at O'Hare, FAA says
An O'Hare plane fire broke out on Memorial Day. The engine of the Airbus A320 caught fire, delaying United Flight 2091 to Seattle.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was a smoky, false start to a cross-country flight.

Monday afternoon, cell phone video shot from inside a Seattle-bound plane at O'Hare shows smoke spilling from the area near the wing of United Flight 2091, an Airbus 320.

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United says the plane headed out to the runway, only to be halted before takeoff due to an engine issue. Airport operations temporarily ceased immediately, leaving incoming planes circling overhead.

Carmen Hernandez was trying to make it home from Nashville.

"We were in the air, and they said, 'I'm sorry for the delay. You're going to be late a little bit, because in Chicago, there's an emergency,'" Hernandez said.

The emergency explanation without any further detail, she says, was all the more alarming.

"We were scared. The lady to my side was asking, 'Do you know what's going on?' and I said 'No, they don't say anything, but the pilot sounds a little nervous.' But he don't say anything to us," Hernandez said.

United says the smoking plane was towed back to the gate and passengers deplaned. In short order, operations resumed, allowing homebound holiday travelers to return from a busy long weekend.

Even with an arrivals board full of mostly on-time and ahead-of-schedule landings, not all trips went so smoothly.

"It was crazy. It was crazy going, and it was crazy coming back, let's just say that," said Shavine Rodney, who was traveling back to Chicago on Monday.

The TSA had predicted as much. The agency says they screened nearly 3 million passengers nationwide on Friday, marking a new all-time record.

Tornadoes and thunderstorms across large swaths of the country made overcrowded air travel more complicated and the holiday weekend trek home to Chicago a little more stressful than some passengers had prepared for.

"The storm rerouted everybody to all the major cities," Olivia Lackey said, who also traveled back to the Chicago Monday.

"It was worth it at the end of the day, but if you have anxiety, I wouldn't recommend traveling at this time," Shavine Rodney added.