Safety investigators said Thursday that they are looking into a reported engine breakdown on a Delta Air Lines jet shortly after takeoff.
The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it was investigating a reported "uncontained" engine failure on Wednesday night's Delta Flight 1418 from Atlanta to Orlando, Florida.
The NTSB said the crew of the 27-year-old Boeing 757-200 jet with 121 passengers and six Delta employees on board shut down the engine and returned safely to Atlanta. The NTSB said there were no injuries.
An uncontained failure occurs when rotating engine parts break off, creating shrapnel that can damage other areas of the plane. A broken fan blade caused an uncontained engine failure on a Southwest Airlines plane that killed a passenger earlier this year.
An NTSB spokesman declined to comment about the Delta incident beyond the tweet. Anthony Black, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta, issued a statement saying the plane "experienced a maintenance issue." He said Delta was cooperating with the NTSB and will replace the engine when the investigation is over.
Jenny Dervin, a spokeswoman for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney said the company was participating in the investigation. She declined to comment further.
According to data captured by tracking service FlightAware.com, the Delta jet took off shortly after 11 p.m. and climbed to about 18,000 feet in eight minutes before slowing down, leveling off, and then beginning a measured descent back to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The plane was in the air for about 28 minutes.
Modern airliners are designed — and pilots are trained — to fly safely with one engine. The greatest danger posed by engine failure is that broken pieces can be spit out at high speed, damaging controls, fuel tanks or the fuselage.
That is what happened on Southwest Flight 1380 as it cruised 32,000 feet over Pennsylvania on April 17. A woman was fatally injured when she was pushed partly out of a window broken by flying debris. The pilots were able to land in Philadelphia without serious injuries to other passengers.
The Southwest engine was made by a different company, a joint venture of General Electric and France's Safran SA. The NTSB plans a hearing on the Southwest case Nov. 14.
David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airrlinewriter