On May 23, service at Newark’s International airport came to halt when the engine of United Airlines flight 1579 caught on fire while taxiing to the runway. The flight, which was bound for San Francisco, was scheduled to depart at 9:22 pm but at 9:38 pm, the airport tweeted “Newark Airport is temporarily closed due to deployment of emergency chutes on a plane with an apparent engine fire. No injuries reported.” The plane’s 124 passengers and seven crew members evacuated the plane via emergency chutes. While the airport initially tweeted that there were no injuries, the FAA subsequently said that there was one minor injury and the airport later said that there were five.

United Airlines Hub in Newark (DonaldDerosa/Wikimedia Commons)

The Port Authority Police Department’s Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters worked quickly to contain the blaze but air traffic was delayed for several hours and flights were diverted to other airports. Additionally, all inbound flights to Newark were held until 11:00 pm. It is currently unclear how many flights were impacted by the stoppage but according to FAA data, Newark Liberty International Airport is “the 16th busiest airport in North America in terms of passenger traffic” and has an average daily capacity number of operations of 1,353. The International Civil Aviation Organization notes that the global Air Traffic Management (ATM) “must be resilient to service disruption and the resulting temporary loss of capacity.”

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Newark Airport Temporarily Closes After Plane Engine Fire – 1340 WJOL
  2. United Airlines Aircraft’s Engine Catches Fire, Prompting Newark Airport’s Temporary Closure – ABC News
  3. Newark Airport Temporarily Shuts Down After Plane Fire, Port Authority Says – CBS News
  4. Newark, N.J. Airport Reopens After United Airlines Engine Fire – Reuters
  5. Newark Liberty International Airport – Federal Aviation Administration