Virgin Airlines plane’s engine catches fire mid-air after possible ‘bird strike’. What happens next? VIDEO

Virgin Airlines plane's engine catches fire
Image Source : AP/X Virgin Airlines plane’s engine catches fire

Melbourne: A Virgin Australia plane was forced to make an emergency landing in New Zealand after one of its engines caught fire, suspected to be due to a bird strike shortly after takeoff. The Melbourne-bound flight departed from Queenstown on Monday evening, and later footage emerged showing apparent flames emanating from the Boeing 737-800.

The Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 jet bound for Melbourne, Australia, with 67 passengers and six crew members on board landed in the New Zealand city of Invercargill after the fire forced a diversion. The incident may have resulted from “a possible bird strike,” the airline’s chief operations officer, Stuart Aggs, said in an emailed statement.

VIDEO: Virgin Australia flight makes emergency landing in New Zealand after engine fire

Not aware of any physical injuries to guests, says airline spokesman

Flames were seen shortly after the plane took off from Queenstown Airport. No further information about what happened at the time of the incident was known, said Catherine Nind, an airport spokesperson. “At this time, we are not aware of any physical injuries to guests or crew,” Aggs said. Passengers will be accommodated in Invercargill overnight and new flights would be arranged, he said. After a brief chaotic situation, the passenger plane landed safely at a New Zealand airport after a fire shut down one of its engines, the nation’s fire service said.


It is worth mentioning Queenstown, with a population of 53,000, is popular tourist destination on New Zealand’s South Island, famous for skiing, adventure tourism and alpine vistas. The rate of birds striking planes at New Zealand’s airports is about four in every 10,000 aircraft movements, the country’s aviation regulator says on its website. The consequences vary in severity depending on where the aircraft is hit, the size of the birds and the pilot’s reaction, the Civil Aviation Authority says.

When Air Canada catches fire

Earlier this month, an Air Canada Boeing Flight AC872 bound for Paris experienced a mid-air fire shortly after taking off from Toronto Pearson Airport on the evening of June 5. The incident, which occurred thirty minutes into the flight, could have ended in tragedy but was successfully managed by the aircrew as the flight made an immediate landing.

The plane departed from its gate at 8:46 pm but had to circle back and land at Toronto Pearson Airport at 9:50 pm. The distressing event unfolded as the aircraft was ascending from the runway, with viral video footage capturing a flash of light from the right engine, followed by a small explosion that set the tail of the plane ablaze.

(With inputs from agency)