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A New York-bound cargo plane had to make an emergency landing after its engine caught fire and broke apart shortly after takeoff in the Netherlands — just hours before an alarmingly similar drama in Colorado.
The pilot of Longtail Aviation Flight 5504 made a mayday call soon after takeoff from Aachen Airport in Maastricht at 4:10 p.m. Saturday as its engine caught fire while heading to John F. Kennedy Airport, officials said.
Dozens of pieces of metal debris fell over the Dutch town of Meerssen, damaging several cars and houses and injuring an elderly woman, officials confirmed.
The Boeing 747-400 cargo plane was redirected and made a safe emergency landing at Liege airport in Belgium, about 19 miles south of the Dutch border, authorities said.
The incident is being investigated by the Dutch Safety Board — at the same time as the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a similar emergency with United’s Flight 328 in Colorado, about four hours later on Saturday.
Like in the Netherlands, the United flight was a Boeing jet whose engine caught fire and dropped debris. In the US, no injuries were reported despite huge chunks of debris falling on Broomfield in suburban Denver.
The Longtail Aviation plane, registered in Bermuda, was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, a smaller version of those on United’s Boeing 777.
As with Colorado, social media images in Europe showed some of the alarming near-misses on the ground, with debris sticking out of cars. Officials told De Telegraaf that an elderly woman who was struck suffered only minor injuries.
“Several cars were damaged and bits hit several houses. Pieces were found across the residential neighborhood on roofs, gardens and streets,” Maastricht Airport spokeswoman Hella Hendriks said.
“The photos indicate they were parts of engine blade, but that’s being investigated.”
Longtail Aviation said it was “too early to speculate as to what may have been the cause of the problem” and that it was working with Dutch, Belgian, Bermuda and UK authorities looking into the incident.
Boeing referred questions to Dutch authorities.
“Our investigation is still in a preliminary phase, it is too early to draw conclusions,” a spokeswoman for the Dutch Safety Board said on Monday.
With Post wires
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