TOKYO — Engine flames that forced a Japan Airlines plane to make an emergency landing earlier this week were caused by damaged turbine blades, not a bird strike as initially believed, Japanese transport officials said Thursday.
The Boeing 777-300 ER carrying 250 passengers and crew returned to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport on Tuesday after its pilot requested an emergency landing minutes after takeoff, reporting a bird strike. An orange flame was seen coming from its left engine during takeoff.
The plane landed safely about an hour later.
The Japan Transport Safety Board said it has labeled the case a “serious incident” after finding damage to dozens of turbine blades in the engine, made by General Electric, but no trace of a bird strike.
Shingo Funaki, one of three accident investigators who inspected the engine, told reporters that a number of holes were also found in metal surrounding the turbine.
Aviation safety officials are investigating the cause of the damage. They plan to seek help from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, NHK public television said.
JAL said in a statement that the airline will cooperate in the investigation.