The Hong Kong International Airport deployed an emergency response crew on the runway after a cargo plane on a trial flight emitted a loud bang and streaks of flame shortly after takeoff, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.
The Boeing 747-400 plane, owned by Silk Way West Airlines of Azerbaijan, was carrying five people and no cargoes when the incident occurred on Tuesday morning.
It had finished undergoing maintenance work at the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd. (HAECO) in Chek Lap Kok, and passed ground engine test, before it was sent out for a trial flight.
Witnesses said they heard a big bang from the plane while it was climbing after takeoff.
“The plane had taken off about 10 seconds when the incident happened,” an airport employee working at the apron told reporters.
Other witnesses said the flames persisted for about 10 seconds.
The pilot turned off the engine in trouble and asked the control tower to be allowed to land. He also asked for an emergency unit to be on standby.
A total of 14 fire engines and an ambulance were dispatched to the runway after the fire department was alerted at 6:03 a.m. The plane landed safely at 6:15 a.m.
No one was injured. Airport operations remained normal and other flights were not disrupted.
The Civil Aviation Department said the third engine of the four-engine plane was damaged and must be replaced.
A HAECO spokesperson said the aircraft engineering company is looking into the incident, adding that a number of factors could have affected the plane during its flight.
Jack Lo Chun-kong, a lecturer at the engineering department of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, said an engine default or a sudden change in air pressure could affect the plane’s engines and cause them to malfunction.
Lo said it was not common for a plane that has just completed repair and maintenance to experience engine malfunction.
He noted, however, that the cargo plane could still fly and land with its three other engines.
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