Aviation News

May 18, 2010

Cockpit Fire Forces United 757 to Make Emergency Landing


Phil Derner’s shot of the incident aircraft (N510UA) landing at LAX earned him a JetPhotos.net Screeners Choice award back in 2004.

A small fire broke out in the cockpit of a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles about 30 minutes after taking of from New York JFK Sunday evening, forcing the Boeing 757 (N510UA) to make an emergency landing at Washington Dulles.

First class passengers reportedly saw flames when the captain of Flight 27 opened the cockpit door and asked for a fire extinguisher, which was delivered by a flight attendant. The first class cabin filled became smoky, but the rest of the aircraft was mostly unaware of the goings-on up front until the emergency landing.

The pilots managed to extinguish the fire before landing and the plane was not evacuated via slides. Firemen boarded the aircraft while passengers were still on board.

Flight 27 flight path. (Map courtesy of FlightAware.com)

One of the windshields appeared to be cracked, according to one passenger who was able to see into the flight deck after landing.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the fire resulted from a long known problem with faulty wiring in windshield heaters on many Boeing models, but especially the 757. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Air Greenland 757s have all suffered cockpit fires in the past few years, all of which were successfully extinguished by the crew.

Cockpit fires tend to bring back horrific memories of SwissAir Flight 111, a McDonnell-Douglas MD-11, which, while enroute to Zurich Geneva from JFK, crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia as the result of a fire which caused loss of control of the aircraft.

As is often the case aboard JFK-LAX flights, a number of actors and actresses were on board, including Ashley Olsen (Michelle Tanner on Full House), her boyfriend Justin Bartha (Doug from The Hangover), Jarrod Spector (Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys) and Pamela Adlon (Marcy on Californication).