How can an airplane keep flying even though its engine has exploded?

Going on a flight where one of the engines is on fire can be very worrying, but it is not synonymous with fatal consequences

A couple of days ago we learned that a plane that had only been in the air for a few minutes had to return to the airport from which it left, because it had a serious failure. How did you manage to do it?

Catastrophic failure

The Flight 328 United Airlines, which had taken off bound for Honolulu, Hawaii, had to return very soon to Denver, where did he come from because he had a catastrophic failure in an engine.

This term is not an exaggeration, it is the name given to this type of event in airplanes: when there is greater damage in any of the systems that give it lift to the plane.

And we were left in no doubt as to the extent of the damage in this case: we were able to see a very impressive video, taken by a passenger, showing the engine incomplete and on fire.

We even learned later that parts of the plane fell to the ground, fortunately without harming anyone.

Two are better than one

That those huge pieces of airplane did not fall on the head of any inhabitant of the Denver suburbs was certainly a fortunate coincidence.

What is not a coincidence is that the plane was able to continue flying, to return and land, with passengers and crew safe and sound.

Airplanes fly thanks to a complex balance of forces: the lift, which is opposed to the gravity, Y the push that moves him forward and opposes the air resistance. To achieve this they have the aerodynamic design of the wings, but also, as in the case of this Boeing 777, two engines in each of them.

It is always better when those two motors work well, but in fact commercial aircraft comply with the specification that only one of their engines must have the necessary power to keep the plane in the air, just for cases like this.

And, where is the pilot?

Of course, the plane can become a bit unbalanced when it no longer receives a balanced thrust from both sides.

But luckily has a pilot and copilot that can make sure the plane stays stable.

They also know a list of steps on what to do when an incident of this type occurs, where the first thing is that if there is a fire, as in this case, they must cut off the fuel flow to that engine, to avoid a real explosion.

And although the aircraft’s warning systems must have indicated the failure, as in the cockpit it is impossible to see what is happening to the engines, the information provided by the aircraft must also have been useful. flight attendants that they could see through the window what was happening.

So the plane was able to keep flying and land, not only because of its design, but also because of the action of the people who were flying it.