NTSB Report: Loose plug found on Atlas Air Boeing 747 engine

View of burnt area of Atlas Air Boeing 747 engine
Photo Credit: NTSB

The US National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) has released its preliminary report into an inflight incident involving an Atlas Air Boeing 747 freighter aircraft in Miami on January 18, 2024.

Atlas Air flight 3885, a Boeing 747-87UF sustained an inflight engine fire following departure from Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami, Florida on a cargo flight operation.

Incident Overview

On January 18, 2024, Atlas Air flight 3885, operated by a Boeing 747-87UF registered N859GT, sustained an engine fire shortly after departing from Miami International Airport (MIA) in Florida.

Atlas Air Crew Response

As the aircraft climbed through approximately 3,000 feet in the early stages of departure, the crew received critical warnings indicating engine issues, including an “OVHT ENG 2” and “FIRE ENG 2” indication warning message on their engine indicating and crew alerting system (EICAS) display.

Simultaneously, the fire warning light illuminated, and the fire bell sounded. The captain of the Atlas Air freighter subsequently declared a mayday with air traffic control (ATC) and the flight was cleared back to MIA via radar vectors for a landing on RWY09.

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The electronic non-normal (NNC) checklist was completed, and the number 2 engine was shutdown by the flight crew. One fire bottle was discharged, and the fire warning light subsequently extinguished.

Following an uneventful landing, Atlas Air flight 3885 was met by firefighting personnel and the airplane was cleared to taxi under its own power to parking.

Photo Credit: NTSB

Post-Incident Inspection

Subsequent examination of the General Electric (GE) GEnx-2B67 engine uncovered damage to the thrust reverser fan duct fixed inner wall, indicating the severity of the incident.

The engine cases were intact and there was no evidence of an uncontained engine failure.

Maintenance Records

A crucial aspect highlighted in the report pertains to the aircraft’s maintenance history. Four days before the incident, a third-party vendor conducted maintenance on the engine’s combustion section, involving the removal of the port M borescope plug.

The maintenance procedure, as documented in the work card, emphasized the importance of proper reinstallation of the borescope plug to ensure the locking feature was properly engaged.

The work card was initialed by the technician performing the work and an inspector, indicating this task had been completed in accordance with the maintenance manual procedure.

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The NTSB preliminary report into an engine fire on an Atlas Air 747 freighter in Miami last month has identified a loose borescope plug on the failed engine.
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