Spirit Airlines engine erupts in flames and deploys evacuation slides

Spirit Airlines jet engine erupts in flames after hitting a large bird during take off from Atlantic City forcing passengers to evacuate using slides

  • A Florida-bound plane trying to take off from Atlantic City Airport’s runway 31 in New Jersey when it the engine caught fire on the runway after a bird strike
  • The crew rejected the takeoff at around 60 knots and the plane stopped just 1,800 feet down the runway shortly before 6pm on Saturday evening
  • Spirit Airlines Flight 3044 had to evacuate more than 100 passengers and crew
  • Flames could be seen coming from the rear of the engine in photos and videos posted to social media. Thick black smoke followed which added to the panic
  • Pilots requested fire trucks, and about a minute later called for the aircraft to be evacuated
  • Passengers had to evacuate the plane via emergency slides with some of them deciding to take their luggage with them despite being told not to 

Passengers on a plane in New Jersey screamed with fear as an engine on the aircraft erupted in flames just as it was hurtling down the runway. 

The Fort Lauderdale-bound plane was forced to abort its takeoff from Atlantic City after a bird strike appeared to damage the right hand engine causing flammable fuel to leak out onto the tarmac.

Those traveling could only watch on in horror and flames spewed from the rear of the engine while they waited for instructions from the crew as to what to do next.

A Florida-bound plane trying to take off from Atlantic City, New Jersey caught fire on the runway after an apparent bird strike

The incident happened on Saturday afternoon at around 6pm. Flames could be seen shooting out the rear of the engine

People sitting by the windows could be heard screaming ‘fire!’ as panic quickly spread throughout the cabin.

All-the-while, the crew of the Spirit Airlines jet remained calm as they told passengers to stay in their seats.

‘Remain seated! Remain seated! Remain seated!’ the crew begged.

‘Holy s***!’ yelled one woman. ‘Open this door and let us out now! C’mon,’ said another and they jumped out of their seats. 

Very few appeared to listen with footage shot inside the cabin showing people reaching up into the overhead bins to retrieve their luggage prior to getting off the plane.

Passengers could be seen standing up before the crew had given instructions to evacuate

People reached for their bags from the overhead bins despite being ordered to leave everything behind

One man could be heard telling a passenger to ‘relax’ but it was clearly something that many found hard to do given the circumstances.

Flight attendants explained that airport fire crews were racing to the scene and for passengers to sit back down.

Before many could return to their seats, the captain issued an order to evacuate but to avoid using the over-wing exit where the engine had been blazing.

‘Evacuate! Evacuate! Evacuate! Right hand engine has caught on fire. We hit a bird on take off. Please avoid the right hand engine,’ instructed the captain.

The flight attendants instructed people to leave their bags behind. ‘Leave everything! Come forward quickly. Jump on to the slide!’ they shouted. 

Outside the window, pictured obtained by The Lakewood Scoop show thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

It only served to panic passengers further but by the time the 102 passengers and seven crew members were jumping down the emergency slides, the flames were out having been doused in foam by an airport fire engine. 

The cabin of the plane never caught fire and no smoke ever came inside. 

The South Jersey Transportation Authority said all 109 people on board the Airbus A320 aircraft, 102 passengers and seven crews members, were safely evacuated. 

Once out of the plane, the passengers ran for cover on the grass at the side of the runway, but even once out of the stricken plane the drama was not over.

One passenger managed to shoot video as they jumped down the evacuation slide

Passengers ran onto the grass at the side of the runway as fellow travelers ran for cover

People could be seen sliding down the emergency chutes as the plane was evacuated

Plenty of people managed to take huge amounts of cabins baggage with them 

At one point a small dog could be seen darting about on the tarmac as it searched for its owner, meanwhile an elderly woman who slid down the slide also landed face first on the ground. 

Two people reported minor injuries ‘which called for medical transportation,’ the authority said. 

‘The captain braked safely and brought the plane to a stop, received an indication of damage to the engine, and ordered an evacuation in accordance with our standard procedures,’ Spirit Airlines said, noting that the aircraft never left the ground.    

The fire was extinguished and the airplane was left on the runway pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.

Passengers received full refunds along with a voucher for future travel and the option of continuing to Fort Lauderdale on another plane later on Saturday, the airline said.

The plane could be seen with both forward evacuation slides depolyed

Passengers were able to stand and take in everything they had just experienced while on the grass

The airport’s own emergency vehicles were quickly on the scene to put out the flames

Passengers jumped down the slide and then ran quickly from the side of the plane

At one stage a little dog was on the loose before being picked up by a passenger

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