NTSB Begins Probe of Spirit Airlines Engine Failure

An engine failure aboard a Spirit Airlines Inc. plane is being probed by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which is recalling some employees furloughed in the U.S. government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Debris from the engine escaped through its hardened case, in what’s known as an uncontained failure, Thomas Zoeller, a safety board spokesman, said in an interview. Uncontained failures must be reported to the NTSB and are considered more dangerous than other engine malfunctions.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating, Laura Brown, an agency spokeswoman, said in an interview.

Spirit Flight 165, an Airbus A319 carrying 150 people, had mechanical difficulties and smoke filled the cabin shortly after takeoff yesterday from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Misty Pinson, a spokeswoman for the Miramar, Florida-based airline, said by e-mail.

The failed engine was shut down and the plane returned to Dallas, Pinson said. No one was injured aboard the flight to Atlanta, she said. The airline is cooperating with the safety board, she said.

No Fire

The plane, which landed at 2:19 p.m., was met by airport emergency teams, who found no sign of fire, David Magana, an airport spokesman, said by e-mail.

The motor was an International Aero Engines AG V2500, Heather Waldron, a spokeswoman for the East Hartford, Connecticut-based company said by e-mail. IAE is a partnership between United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit, Japanese Aero Engine Corp. and MTU Aero Engines in Germany.

Mary Anne Greczyn, an Airbus spokeswoman in Herndon, Virginia, said she didn’t have any details of the incident and referred questions to Spirit.

The NTSB recalled crash investigators from furloughs to respond and will send them to Dallas. It will examine the plane’s flight recorders as part of its probe, Zoeller said.

The NTSB has had to keep investigators away from at least 13 transportation accidents, including six aircraft crashes, because of the partial U.S. government shutdown, Chairman Deborah Hersman told the Senate Commerce Committee on Oct. 11.

The agency had to put 383 of its 405 employees on leave without pay, Hersman said.

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