Engine Explodes on an Air France Plane

An Airbus SE A380 superjumbo operated by Air France was forced to make an emergency landing in eastern Canada after one of its four engine broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean.

The aircraft was flying from Paris to Los Angeles when the “serious incident” occurred, prompting the pilots to land in Goose Bay, Labrador, the airline said Sunday in a statement. No one on Air France Flight 66 was hurt and arrangements have been made to get the 497 passengers to California, the airline said. Airbus and France’s BEA air-accident investigation bureau dispatched a team of experts to Canada to investigate the aircraft, they said.

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Aircraft engines are designed to contain most problems, such as snapped fan blades or bird strikes. Pictures taken from inside the Air France plane showed the front cowling and fan disc of the No. 4 engine, outermost on the right side, had completely sheared off.

"We looked out the window and saw half of the engine was missing," said Guillen, an NBC executive who added that hundreds of passengers were stuck aboard the stricken plane at Goose Bay, Labarador, awaiting a replacement. The U.S. manufacturer of the engine, Connecticut-based Engine Alliance, said it was investigating the failure, which the airline said caused "serious damage."

Photographs and videos shared by passengers on social media showed tattered metal surrounding the exposed interior of an engine, its white covering blown away. One fragment, dangling from the main body of the engine, bobbed in the wind.

A passenger, John Birkhead, said he and his wife had just stood up to stretch when they heard the explosion.

“We were just stretching and talking, and suddenly there was an enormous bang, and the whole plane shook,” Mr. Birkhead, 59, who was returning home to California after a two-week vacation, said. “We were lucky we weren’t tossed to the ground.”