United Airlines Plane Catches Fire at Chicago’s O'Hare Airport
United Airlines Plane Catches Fire at Chicago’s O'Hare Airport

By Tom Ozimek

An engine caught fire on a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on May 27, causing the pilots to abort takeoff.

United Airlines flight 2091 from Chicago to Seattle experienced an engine fire at around 2 p.m. local time at O’Hare airport shortly before takeoff, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

The incident led the FAA to temporarily suspend arrivals to the airport, with normal operations resuming at around 2:45 p.m. local time, the spokesperson added.

The aircraft, an Airbus A320, was towed to the gate where passengers “safely deplaned,” per the FAA spokesperson.

A spokesperson for United Airlines confirmed in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times that the flight in question, which was scheduled to depart for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, was delayed after experiencing an “issue” with the engine, “which our local ground crew and emergency responders immediately addressed.”

“The plane was towed to the gate, passengers deplaned normally and no injuries were reported. We are working to make alternative travel arrangements for customers,” the spokesperson added.

The United Airlines spokesperson said that 148 passengers and five crew members were on board the aircraft when the incident occurred.

“The fire department and medical personnel met the aircraft out of an abundance of caution,” the spokesperson said.

A post circulating on social media purportedly shows images and video of the grounded United Airlines flight 2091 with several fire trucks on standby.

While details of the engine fire remain unclear, it comes as a federal watchdog recently launched an audit of the FAA to evaluate its oversight of United Airlines’ maintenance programs after a run of safety events at the carrier were linked to mechanical problems.

Watchdog Audit

The U.S. Transportation Department Office of Inspector General announced in a May 9 memorandum that it will audit the FAA’s oversight of United Airlines’ maintenance program to ensure that the agency’s safety controls don’t have any gaps that could undermine the safety of commercial aviation in the United States.

“Recent safety events with United Airlines—such as flight diversions that can be traced to mechanical problems—serve to remind us that FAA oversight of maintenance programs is paramount,” the watchdog’s memo reads.

United Airlines has experienced about a dozen incidents over the past few months, according to a review by The Epoch Times. These include a chunk of the outer aluminum skin falling off the belly of a Boeing 737-800, a United flight being forced to return to Houston after an engine caught fire, and a tire falling off a United Boeing 777 during takeoff in San Francisco.

Part of the audit will take place at the FAA’s headquarters in Washington and several regional offices. It will also include visits to United maintenance hubs in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.

Because of recent safety events, the FAA has increased oversight of United Airlines to ensure compliance with safety regulations, identification of hazards and risk mitigation, and effective safety management, The Epoch Times has learned.

An FAA spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that it welcomes outside scrutiny and will “cooperate fully with the audit.”

A United Airlines spokesperson said the company had nothing to share on the development as the audit is focused on the FAA’s oversight.

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