Boeing 747 engine bursts into flames and showers metal parts over Dutch town

An investigation has begun into an incident involving a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane that lost parts of its engine just after take-off, the Dutch Safety Board has said.

Longtail Aviation Flight 5504 littered the Dutch town of Meerssen with small metal parts that fell from the sky onto property and people, shortly after departing Maastricht Airport for New York on Saturday. 

Maastricht Airport spokesperson Hella Hendriks told Reuters: “The photos indicate they were parts of engine blade, but that’s being investigated.”

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She added: “Several cars were damaged and bits hit several houses. Pieces were found across the residential neighbourhood on roofs, gardens and streets.”

Ms Hendriks confirmed that least dozens of pieces fell. The metal parts apparently measured 5cm wide and 25cm long.

According to the official South Limburg safety office, two people were injured by the debris, and one had to be taken to hospital. It’s understood an elderly woman was injured.

Boeing told The Independent to address any questions about the incident to Dutch authorities.

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A spokesperson for the Dutch Safety Board said on Monday that their investigation was “still in a preliminary phase,” adding that it was still too early to draw any conclusions.

According to witness reports, there was a fire visible on one of the plane’s engines. The plane was able to land safely at Liege airport in Belgium, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of where it took off in Maastricht.

The cargo plane was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, a small version of those on the United Airlines Boeing 777 that caught fire and dropped engine parts over Denver on Saturday.

The planemaker has since recommended that all Boeing 777 models with Pratt & Whitney engines are grounded, affecting 128 aircraft in total.

It followed a decision by Japanese safety regulators, which banned the 777 aircraft with the same Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines. United Airlines said it had voluntarily grounded its fleet.

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