Air France 66 to Los Angeles Blew an Engine, Passenger are Safe, But Wow!

Air France flight AF66 from Paris to Los Angeles today lost the number four engine southwest of Greenland “when the fan and inlet separated from the engine.” There was “a loud thud followed by vibrations.”

The cockpit crew took the plane down to 31,000 feet and then diverted to Goose Bay, Canada landing safely after two more hours of flying. On arrival an inspection found hydraulic fluid leaking. There was debris on the runway from the aircraft after it touched down as well.

Apparently passengers had to remain on the aircraft for a couple of hours because Goose Bay doesn’t have anything immediately available to offload an A380.

Copyright: radututa / 123RF Stock Photo

I once was onboard a United 777 that diverted to Richmond when Washington Dulles was closed due to bad weather and we were running out of fuel. They had to call the fire department because at the time the airport couldn’t support anything tall enough to refuel a 777 (we weren’t allowed off the aircraft and we were on the ground for several hours).

You can see video from inside the cabin. As a passenger this is scary. Last year I was onboard an American flight that suffered a bird strike. You heard a loud bang and once the captain announced we were turning around and were given a straight show into DFW a lot of breath was held until we were on that ground. And that wasn’t over the Atlantic, it was close to the airport.

Here’s the plane making its emergency landing at Goose Bay:

That engine is a mess.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Two more hours from a diversion airport on only one engine which if it fails means all perish. This is ESOPS. I am not sold that it isn’t gambling lives. Are you?

  2. I was on a flight from Charlotte to Cincinnati one evening when one of the engines went out on a 2 engine jet. We as passengers didn’t know anything about it until just before landing, the pilot told us what had happened, and that we had been flying most of the way on 1 engine. He didn’t want us to be alarmed because it was considered an emergency landing, and emergency vehicles would be rushing toward the runway when we landed. We landed and there were lots of fire and rescue with emergency lights. The pilot said, “Welcome to Cincinnati!”

  3. I am glad that everyone arrived safely.

    Does anyone know the cause of the engine issue? I could not find this anyway.

    Could this cause them to keep using more planes with four engines instead of them going away? Is it safe to fly on two engine planes across the Atlantic?

  4. This should be filed under “Thank goodness for 4 engine aircraft”. Now that the 747 is being actively retired after 40-50 years of proving itself, and replaced with twin engine 777’s with about 20 years of history (and mostly flawless I believe), you have to wonder if the next 20 years for 777’s will be as reliable as 4 engine 747’s and an ideal solution for travel over water. Whether it is bird strikes, poor repairs, poor maintenance, or just bad luck, losing 2 of 4 engines is less likely than losing 1 of 2 engines – well the loss of life is less likely. Is the fuel savings that much? It could be, but that will be little consolation to the unfortunate passengers on the twin engine plane that experiences an engine failure in between continents.
    Maybe someone more familiar with aircraft maintenance can inform us if jet engines are frequently replaced (not just well maintained) and making twin engine aircraft just as dependable as a four engine airplane?
    One more thing: hats off to the pilots and crew.

  5. “doesn’t have anything immediately available to offload an A380”

    So what is the plan if someone on a giant plane has a medical emergency which necessitates a premature landing? Send the afflicted person down a slide?

  6. As any update: passengers are still on the plane, on the ground. Some fist class and business passengers were snuck off to another plane without an announcement to the rest of the passengers. The rest of us (particularly skyteam members with status) are feeling very betrayed.

  7. Gary wrote:

    “Last year I was onboard an American flight that suffered a bird strike. You heard a loud bang and once the captain announced we were turning around and were given a straight show into DFW a lot of breath was held until we were on that ground.”

    I was on an AA flight from DFW to LAX several years ago. About 90 minutes away from LAX, there was a loud bang. The captain immediately announced that he thought it was a bird strike and was checking his instrumentation. A couple of minutes later, he announced that everything seemed okay and we were continuing to our destination.

    When we landed, the runways were lined by fire equipment, but the landing was normal. We stopped in a cross-runway taxiway and were towed into the gate. When I disembarked, I looked through the window next to the jetway and saw the captain staring up at a dangling hydraulic hose near the starboard engine cowling, dripping a small amount of fluid. It was a very thick hose to have blown!

    I was impressed by the calm that the passengers exhibited. There were quite a few leisure traveling families on board. There were no screams and no outward signs of panic. The only visible response: when we landed and stopped, there was hearty applause.

  8. So the engine blew. As it stands, nothing major. Planes are built for this. No need to get all Captain Clickbait, dear Gary.

  9. On a personal note, the number 4 engine on our Pan Am Jumbo blew just before rotation on our BOM – FRA flight in 1989. We were sitting on the wing, and man, those were some awesome fireworks. What made them better is that we disembarked via air stairs, and then had to walk halfway down the wing to get to our buses.
    That’s when I fell in love with the 747

  10. @daniel – they fly 2 engine planes to Hawaii all the time and that is a MUCH longer flight over water than any flight across the Atlantic.

  11. All people worried by those 2 engine planes crossing water:
    Such planes, under “ETOPS” regulation, are bound to much stricter rules for maintenance, fail-safe equipment, reliability, fail-safe procedures and flight planning. The engines are not replaced often, they are closely monitored all the time inflight, over years. They are replaced when parameters show they might develop an issue before it’s an issue. To qualify for enhanced ETOPS, the airline, plane manufacturer, crews, repair shop etc etc must pass quality gates over years.

    Then a 2 engine jet is allowed to take routes where the next suitable airport is up to 370 minutes away!!! That means, if one of 2 engines cannot run anymore inflight, the next airport must be reached within 6 hours and 10 minutes! Sounds extremly long, but engines are so reliable meanwhile that it’s as safe as 3 or 4 engine planes.

    This strategy enhanced the reliability a LOT, so 4 engine planes now are also regulated under these strict rules.

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