An engine on a Southwest Airlines plane caught fire Monday morning during a flight, forcing the aircraft to return safely to the Salt Lake City airport shortly after takeoff, CNN affiliate KUTV reported.
The flight’s pilots, who were en route to Los Angeles, conducted an emergency landing, said Nancy Volmer, a Salt Lake City International Airport spokeswoman, the station reported.
Passenger Crystal Bangerter was taking her first flight ever when she saw “huge flames just coming right out of the engine.”
“Suddenly there was a huge explosion,” she told KUTV. “I kinda looked over and saw the look on my husband’s face, and I knew right away that this wasn’t normal.”
Passenger Traci Scarce said she heard a loud pop that sounded like a boom.
“What do you do? You’ve got shooting flames out the engine. It’s crazy,” Scarce told the station.
A video shot from the ground shows a plane in the air as flames appear to flicker from one of the engines.
Southwest Flight 604 left its gate in Salt Lake City around 6:38 a.m., according to tracking site FlightAware, and landed back at Salt Lake City International Airport around 7:20 a.m.
Throughout the ordeal, the crew stayed calm and landed the plane safely, passenger Torrence Elegante told KUTV. Passengers took another plane to LAX.
The pilots decided to return to the airport “after receiving a cockpit indication of a performance issue with one of the aircraft engines. Following established protocol and procedures, the pilots completed an uneventful landing,” Southwest said in a statement to CNN affiliate KTVX.
Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.