Nationwide Boeing engine ‘sucked in object’

The engine that dropped off Nationwide flight CE723 had sucked in ”an object” as the plane was taking off, the airline said on Thursday.

It was commenting on the drama on Wednesday in which a Johannesburg-bound Boeing 737 lost one of its two engines during take-off from Cape Town airport, yet managed to land safely half-an-hour later.

In a statement, Nationwide said that during take-off the captain, Trevor Arnold, heard a loud noise, and the aircraft yawed.

After confirmation from instruments that one of the engines had failed, Arnold immediately applied emergency procedures, and the plane returned to make an emergency landing.

”Nationwide Airlines has since determined that during the take-off roll, an object which is yet to be defined was ingested into the engine, causing engine failure,” the statement said.

”The subsequent forces experienced by the engine-supporting structure caused this to fail and for the number-two engine to detach from the wing.”

The engine-to-wing support structure is designed to release the engine when extreme forces are applied, to prevent any structural damage to the wing.

Nationwide is working with ”the proper authorities” to establish what the object was.

In the same statement, Nationwide’s CEO, Vernon Bricknell, complimented Arnold and the crew of the flight ”for their heroic efforts in helping to maintain the company’s outstanding safety record”.

He said pilots and flight crew are thoroughly trained in a variety of subjects and scenarios that, hopefully, they might never experience in real life.

”Yesterday this training paid off — the skills of the crew were called upon and procedures were carried out in a textbook fashion,” Bricknell said.

He said this is the first major incident that the airline has experienced since taking to the skies 12 years ago.

The 737 is ”by far” one of the safest aircraft in service today. There are about 5 000 of them in service around the world, with one taking off every nine seconds.

Nationwide has met and surpassed local and international safety best-practice standards. — Sapa

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