U.S.

United plane engine catches fire midflight, passengers fear for lives

Passenger video from United flight 1118 on Monday showed flames shooting out from the engine.

United plane engine catches fire midflight, passengers fear for lives
Dorian D Cerda via Storyful

Passengers aboard a United Airlines plane from Texas to Florida feared for their lives as the aircraft's engine caught fire midflight.

Passenger video from United flight 1118 on Monday showed orange flames shooting out from the engine.

"Hey ladies and gentlemen, we realize something happened outside," airline staff can be heard saying over the intercom.

The plane, a Boeing 737-900, was forced to emergency land back at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where it had departed from, according to FlightAware data. The plane was initially headed to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

The flight took off from Houston at 6:40 p.m., and the "crew reported an engine issue around 6:55 p.m.," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The plane arrived back in Houston at 7:13 p.m., according to FlightAware.

In a statement to Scripps News, United said that "the flight landed safely and the passengers deplaned normally."

"We arranged for a new aircraft to take our customers to their destination, which departed for Fort Myers later that evening," said the airline.

Passenger Elliot Trexler described hearing a loud noise while aboard the plane.

"This was a loud explosion. There was no question in any of our minds that something bad had happened. That combined with the plane nosediving and seeing the flames," Trexler said on NBC's "TODAY" show on Thursday.

Another passenger, David Gruninger, also recounted the incident.

"I remember there was just this bright, flashing light that came through the window, and it sounded like a bomb went off, and then it was just a strobe of fire out the window," Gruninger told ABC 13.

"It just turned into chaos," he said. "People were screaming and crying and trying to figure out what was going on."

Trexler, who also spoke with ABC 13, told the station he began composing a goodbye message to his wife.

"I think it's fair to say we all thought we were going to die," Trexler said.

No cause has been revealed, but the FAA says it is investigating the incident.