Jet from Dubai lands safely at Logan after engine fire

Emirates jet at Logan

The Emirates jet. Photo by Jeff Graham.

Alert New England reports on an incident around 2:00 p.m. involving an Emirates Airline jet:

Fire in the number 1 engine, went out but was still reported to be leaking fuel.

The Herald has more.

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I saw it today just a few minutes before it landed...

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I saw that very jet as it made its final turn before final approach to Boston. I was in Randolph and noticed it flying over, low enough to read the red "Emirates" painted on the underside of the plane. I pointed it out to a friend standing next to me. Everything looked fine from where I was.

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At any time...

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I visited the Air and Space Museum at Boeing Field last month - they've got a mock control tower setup where you can see the taxiways and runway at Boeing Field and hear the ATC. I got into a conversation with a woman who was obviously local and an airline industry veteran. She said, "At any given time, there are at least two things wrong with your plane." That's why they make 'em redundant.

(On an earlier trip to Seattle, shortly after takeoff for the flight home...yup, engine fire, shut 'er down and landed smooth as silk on the remaining one. Nice view of the Cascades and no big deal.)

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It is indeed true

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that, at any given time, there can be several things on a plane that are broken or malfunctioning. What matters most is the importance of which things are broken or malfunctioning contribute in keeping the plane safely in the air, and the level of redundancy that is built into those systems.

The airline industry operates under what is known as the Minimum Equipment List (MEL). The MEL basically says what systems on an aircraft must be functioning before the flight can be authorized to depart, and which aircraft systems can have repair deferred. The purpose of this list is because not all airports have the same level of maintenance and repair facilities.

As far as engine failures, FAA certifications require that an aircraft be able to fly with half the available engine power. So, as you observed, a twin engine jet losing one engine mid-flight shouldn't pose a problem. However, FAA procedures also require that a plane that has lost half its engine power must land at the first available airport that can accommodate the plane.

Sidebar - Last December, when traveling from O'Hare back to Logan on a 757, our flight was diverted to Syracuse due to loss of oil pressure in the left engine (captain's exact words once we landed). While Syracuse is a regional hub for smaller commuter jets, it's also an Air National Guard base and a FedEx hub. So accommodating a 757 was no problem.

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