'Quite the Dramatic Takeoff': Flames Shoot From Plane's Engine Moments Into Flight

A plane bound for Melbourne was forced to make an emergency landing due to an engine fire shortly after taking off on June 17 from Queenstown, New Zealand.

From his window seat, passenger Michael Hayward had a closeup view of the unsettling moment the plane’s right engine started shooting flames.

Hayward told the ABC that there were cries of panic as passengers began to realize what was happening. However, people calmed quickly once the engine was turned off and “it became clear the pilots had things under control,” he said. Hayward praised the pilots’ effort for making a safe landing with only one engine.

It “wasn’t as great as having two, but was better than none,” he said.

Citing Virgin Australia chief operations officer Stuart Aggs, the ABC said a bird strike may have been the cause.

Hayward was of the same opinion, telling Storyful it happened just seconds into the flight. “All you hear is ‘boom, boom, boom’,” he told the ABC. “Quite the dramatic takeoff.” Credit: Michael Hayward via Storyful