The aircraft landed safely in Xiamen.
A China Eastern Airbus A330 landed safely at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN) Sunday morning after an uncontained engine failure left the cabin violently vibrating, as reported by The Aviation Herald. Upon discovering the incident, the captain diverted the aircraft, and all passengers and crew safely disembarked the aircraft. The plane was promptly met by emergency personnel. No injuries have been reported in association with this incident.
The flight in quotation was China Eastern flight MU721. The flight, operated on a six-and-a-half-year-old Airbus A330-300 registered B-8970, departed Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) at 08:10 (local time). It was intended to arrive at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) at 10:50 (local time).
The incident occurred a little over an hour into the flight after departure from SHA’s runway 36L when the aircraft was at an altitude of 34,100 feet. The A330 was on course around 30 nautical miles north of Xiamen, China, in the southeastern Fujian province, when the crew reported a malfunction on the aircraft and would divert to Xiamen. The aircraft then proceeded to descend and landed on runway 05 at XMN just 19 minutes after beginning its descent from 34,100 feet.
Over an hour into the flight, passengers reported loud bangs from the left-hand engine, with extreme vibration following throughout the remainder of the flight. According to statements from passengers, there were loud noises similar to a tractor, culminating with a potent burning smell. After passengers on the left-hand side of the aircraft shouted that the left-hand engine was broken, the captain announced that the plane would be diverting to Xiamen.
A passenger on board under the username Liam_1990 flight filmed the turbulent cabin and the loud bangs, posting it on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The footage was then reposted on X, formerly known as Twitter, by aviation safety company JACDEC.
Upon landing in Xiamen, it was clear to everyone that the aircraft could not continue to Hong Kong as two fan blades of the plane’s left-hand engine separated and were thus flung through the engine casing. Seven hours later, China Eastern was able to deploy another plane to complete the scheduled service- another Airbus A330-300 bearing the registration B-5976. The flight departed Xiamen at 17:31 (local time) and touched down in Hong Kong at 18:34 (local time), accumulating a delay of seven hours and fifty minutes.
What do we know about the involved aircraft?
The aircraft that suffered the incident was the almost seven-year-old Airbus A330-343, registered B-8970. The plane has a total capacity of 300 passengers in a two-class cabin with 38 seats in business class and 262 in economy class. Two Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60 engines operate it. The A330 B-8970 operated its maiden flight on May 19, 2017, and was delivered to China Eastern on June 29, 2017, and has operated for the carrier since.
Sunday’s incident is referred to as uncontained due to the debris from the engine penetrating the engine casing. Uncontained engine failures pose a grave risk to both the aircraft and passengers onboard; that said, it does not appear the debris impacted the aircraft.