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Uncontained Engine Failures: 5 Notable Accidents

They rarely happen, but these are some of the most notable uncontained engine failures in airline jet history.

1) Qantas Flight 32

On November 4th, 2010, a Qantas A380 took off from London Heathrow, bound for Sydney, Australia, with a stopover in Singapore. 4 minutes after takeoff from Singapore's Changi airport, the #2 engine developed an oil leak from a manufacturing defect, which led to an oil fire. The fire then caused the engine's Intermediate Pressure Disk to break. Three pieces of the disk broke off, puncturing the engine cowling and wing, and severing multiple sets of wires in the wing. However, the pilots were able to fly the badly damaged airplane to back to Changi airport and safely land, with no injuries to the crew or passengers.

Arun Rajagopal
The Age

2) Delta Airlines flight 1288

Delta Flight 1288 was an MD-88 scheduled from Pensacola, Florida to Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. During the takeoff roll, the cockpit lighting and instrumentation failed. The First Officer aborted the takeoff, and brought the aircraft to a stop on the runway. Investigators found that during the takeoff roll, a crack in the compressor fan hub of the #1 engine led to an uncontained failure. Debris from the failure penetrated the aircraft's cabin, unfortunately leading to 2 fatalities.


3) United Airlines Flight 232

One of the most miraculous flights ever recorded, Flight 232 was a DC-10 enroute from Denver to Chicago. During the flight, the fan disk of the #2 engine failed and disintegrated, releasing shrapnel into the aircraft's tail section. Metal fragments punctured the lines of all three hydraulic systems, and fluid from all systems drained out of the lines, leaving the jet uncontrollable. The pilots were able to use asymmetric thrust from the #1 and #3 engines to turn the plane and control, to a limited extent, the descent rate. The pilots diverted the plane to Sioux City, Iowa, and crash landed it. Out of the 296 people on board, 185 survived the accident.

The NY Post

4) National Airlines Flight 27

Enroute from Houston to Las Vegas on November 3, 1973, a National Airlines DC-10 had an uncontained engine failure of the #3 engine. The fan assembly disintegrated, and metal fragments penetrated the fuselage, as well as the right wing and #1 and #2 engines, causing a cabin decompression. The crew executed an emergency descent, and landed at Albuquerque International Airport. Unfortunately, during the descent, a passenger was sucked out a window that was damaged from the fan fragments, and was fatally injured. The NTSB found the crew had conducted an auto-throttle experiment prior to the failure by pulling the N1 circuit breakers. However, the NTSB wasn't able to conclude that the experiment was related to the engine failure.

National Airlines
Images Shack

5) British Airways Flight 2276

During takeoff from Las Vegas on September 8, 2015, a British Airways 777's #1 engine suffered an uncontained engine failure. The crew aborted the takeoff, and after realizing the aircraft was on fire resulting from the engine failure, evacuated the aircraft on the runway. Airport Rescue Fire Fighting were able to extinguish the fire within five minutes of the crew's mayday call, and all passengers and crew escaped the airplane.

Bradley Hampton

So how common are uncontained engine failures? Stay tuned next week for our article on why they happen, and how often they occur.

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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