Incident: Atlas Air 747-8 Engine Failure Over Miami

By Spyros Georgilidakis | January 19, 2024

The crew of an Atlas Air Boeing 747-8 had to return to their departing airport, after an engine failure that included sparks and flames.

This incident happened on Thursday the 18th of January. It involved Atlas Air flight 5Y-95, which does not appear to be a regular flight number for the airline. It departed from Miami International (KMIA) in the United States.

Incident: Atlas Air 747-8 Engine Failure Over Miami
Photo: Paul Weatherman via Atlas Air

The flight’s destination was San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International (TJSJ) in Puerto Rico. There were five crew on board this flight, which took off from Miami’s runway 9 just after 10:30 PM. But they wouldn’t get very far.

As they reached 2,000 feet, the Atlas Air crew declared an emergency and informed air traffic control that their 747-8 had a fire on its No2 engine. Already at 1,000 feet, the crew had started to reduce their climb rate noticeably.

Atlas Air 747-8 Engine Failure And A Hole?

Witnesses on the ground saw distinct sparks and flames coming out of the engine. The Atlas Air crew initially continued their climb as they dealt with the misbehaving engine on their 747-8. The crew reportedly informed ATC that they had hazardous materials on board.

Photo: Justin Hu

They leveled off at 3,000 feet, before preparing to come back into Miami. The Atlas Air crew landed their 747-8 safely back on runway 9, about 12 minutes after declaring their engine emergency. The entire flight lasted less than 15 minutes.

Emergency services checked out the engine and the rest of this Atlas Air 747-8 after landing. They didn’t need to intervene, so the crew taxied to the apron. The FAA later reported that a post-flight inspection revealed a “softball size hole” above the No2 engine.

Incident: Atlas Air 747-8 Engine Failure Over Miami
Photo: Atlas Air

The aircraft remains in Miami, as of this writing. It isn’t clear if this was a revenue flight. However, another Atlas Air 747 (a -400 model) flew to San Juan with the same flight number, the next morning.

Interestingly, this particular Atlas Air 747-8 had not flown for nearly a week, before the incident flight. This aircraft has registration N859GT and is just over 8 years old. The airline has named it after William J. Flynn, who was Atlas Air CEO between 2006 and 2019.

The incident aircraft. It didn’t get a full Atlas Air livery until last year. Photo: Venkat Mangudi, CC BY 2.0

This aircraft was originally ordered by Cathay Pacific, who never took it up. Atlas Air took delivery of it instead, in November of 2015. It has General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines. At the moment, it isn’t clear if its engine failure was contained or uncontained, given reports of a hole.



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