18 passengers sue after fiery engine failure at O’Hare

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In this photo provided by passenger Jose Castillo, fellow passengers walk away from a burning American Airlines jet that aborted takeoff and caught fire on the runway at O’Hare International Airport in October 2016. Pilots on Flight 383 bound for Miami reported an engine-related mechanical issue, according to an airline spokeswoman. | Jose Castillo/Distributed by the Associated Press

Eighteen passengers have filed a lawsuit against Boeing and American Airlines after the airplane they were on caught fire last month on the tarmac of O’Hare International Airport when part of an engine failed.

About 20 people were taken to hospitals after the right engine of Miami-bound American Airlines Flight 383 broke into four pieces about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 28, according to fire officials and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The suit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court also names as a defendant General Electric Aviation, claiming it sold a faulty engine that Boeing used to assemble an unsafe 767 aircraft. The passengers also claim American Airlines employees should have done a better job inspecting the plane, and that they failed to provide “assistance, supervision and instruction” during evacuation.

The National Transportation Safety Board released this photo of the pieces it recovered from a high pressure turbine disk that fractured inside the engine of an American Airlines jet that was about to take off from O’Hare International Airport on Oct. 28.

The National Transportation Safety Board released this photo of the pieces it recovered from a high pressure turbine disk that fractured inside the engine of an American Airlines jet that was about to take off from O’Hare International Airport on Oct. 28. | NTSB photo

Spokesmen for Boeing and American declined to comment on the pending litigation. A representative for GE could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.

An NTSB report issued a week after the fire said one of the fractures on the turbine disk of the engine was “consistent with fatigue cracking.” Takeoff was aborted due to the “uncontained engine failure” that led to fuel pooling under the plane’s right wing, which then burst into flames, authorities said.

One piece of the turbine disk went through the inboard section of the right wing, over the fuselage and into a UPS warehouse facility more than a half-mile away. Another piece was found about 1,600 feet away, but it was still on O’Hare property, authorities said.

No fire breached the cabin, and the 20 hospitalized passengers had been released a night after the fire.

The five-count negligence suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.


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