A Boeing cargo plane headed for Puerto Rico was diverted back to Miami International Airport shortly after takeoff when an engine failed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The episode is another potential setback for Boeing, which has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks over quality control concerns.
Atlas Air Flight 5Y095 landed safely after experiencing an “engine malfunction” shortly after departure, the airline said early Friday.
Video taken from the ground appeared to showed flames repeatedly shooting from the plane as it flew.
The F.A.A. said in its initial report on the incident that a post-flight inspection revealed “a softball-size hole” above the No. 2 engine. It said it would investigate further.
“The crew followed all standard procedures and safely returned” to the airport, Atlas Air said in a statement. “At Atlas, safety is always our top priority and we will be conducting a thorough inspection to determine the cause.”
It was unclear what kind of cargo the plane was carrying.
Data collected by FlightAware, which tracks flight information, showed the aircraft was a Boeing 747-8 that left its gate at Miami International at 10:11 p.m. on Thursday. It returned to the airport around 10:30, the F.A.A. said.
A spokeswoman for Boeing said early Friday that the company was deferring comment to Atlas Air.
Atlas Air, which started in 1992 and is based in New York, claims to operate the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, according to its website. The company also provides customers with a selection of planes, including Boeing 777s and 737s, for cargo and passenger operations.
Problems began mounting for Boeing in late December when it urged airlines to inspect all 737 Max airplanes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder-control system after an airline found a bolt was missing a nut during routine maintenance.
The company’s problems escalated in early January after a door panel blew off a 737 Max 9 plane operated by Alaska Airlines, causing an emergency landing in Portland, Ore. The F.A.A. then ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Max 9 planes until they were thoroughly inspected, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and headaches for travelers.
On Wednesday, F.A.A. officials said that an initial round of inspections of 40 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes had been completed, however those aircraft and many others would remain grounded until the agency signed off on the instructions for airlines to inspect the planes.
Amid Boeing’s struggles, Airbus, its longtime rival, has pulled ahead, announcing this month that it had delivered more aircraft and secured more orders than Boeing in 2023.
Victor Mather contributed reporting.