SEATAC, Wash. >> Passengers saw flames shoot from an airliner’s engine and the Delta flight with more than 260 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing at the Seattle airport before dawn Thursday.
“It was very scary, and I was sitting with my two girls and just trying to keep them calm,” passenger Stephanie Woods told KIRO-TV in Seattle.
There were no injuries reported aboard Delta Flight 2469, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Atlanta, said Sea-Tac International Airport spokesman Perry Cooper.
He said the fire was out before the Boeing 767-300 — with 255 passengers, two pilots and six crew members — touched down.
Pilots put the fire out by shutting off the engine and allowing cold air to extinguish the flames, Cooper said. The two-engine 767 is designed to be able to fly even if only one engine is working.
Tammy McCann saw the flames, as well. “We could see fire coming out then (the pilot) obviously shut that engine down, and there was little comfort in that,” she said.
The passengers also told the station that after the landing, the captain came out of the cockpit with tears in his eyes.
“The captain’s a hero, he was amazing,” Woods said. “He just came out and talked to us and everyone was clapping, and everyone was teary, and it was nuts.”
Firefighters were on hand when the plane landed at about 2:30 a.m. local time in Seattle, but they weren’t needed, Cooper said.
Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said the names of the flight crew wouldn’t be released for legal and privacy reasons.
The engine fire was caused by a rare engine surge, Durrant said.
When surges happen, the air and fuel mixture in the engine produces a flame that blasts out of the back.
The pilots and crew followed surge procedures, throttling back and landing at the nearest airport.
Eric Weiss, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the engine problem was not a “reportable incident” so the NTSB would not be investigating.
Messages left with the Federal Aviation Administration in Seattle and Washington, D.C., weren’t immediately answered.
All passengers were rescheduled on flights Thursday morning, Durrant said.