FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A passenger on board a flight bound for South Florida from New Jersey this weekend described the chilling moment they ran intro trouble during takeoff.
Spirit Airlines Flight 3044 from Atlantic City to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport caught fire before it got off the ground, Saturday evening.
Passenger Michael Killeen talked about the incident exclusively with 7News on Sunday.
“I was on the 19th row,” he said.
Just as the airplane began speeding down the tarmac, Killeen said, the pilot nailed the brakes.
“It felt like the front wheel was off the ground, and then it was going over 100 miles an hour, I’m sure, and it came to an abrupt stop,” he said. “Everybody’s laptops and things were shaken up, and people were jerked around.”
Killeen said passengers began shouting, “Fire!”
“When I looked over and saw that fire, I mean, it was shooting out of the engine, and it was shooting right through the wing,” he said, ’cause the wing flap was open, and I thought for sure the wing was going to blow up.”
The flight’s crew moved quickly to open the emergency exit. funneling more than 102 passengers down a chute.
Fire crews doused the flames, as shaken passengers deplaned and stood right along the runway.
In a statement released by the airline on Saturday night, a spokesperson said they believe the cause of the chaos was a bird.
The statement reads in part, “[The flight] encountered what is believed to be a large bird while accelerating for takeoff in Atlantic City, which entered one of the plane’s engines.”
The statement goes on to say, “We commend our crew for handling the situation swiftly and safely. Our guests will receive full refunds, a future travel voucher and the option of traveling to Fort Lauderdale on another plane tonight.”
Killeen landed at FLL on Sunday.
“When I took the taxi home from the airport. I said, ‘I’m glad to be alive,'” he said. “It’s a good day.”
Killeen said it all unfolded very quickly, and he commended the flight’s crew for handling the situation with urgency and getting everyone off the aircraft safely.
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