Runway debris may have caused jet engine failure


Runway debris may have been sucked into the engine of an American Airlines flight that suffered engine failure and caused metal to rain on a Queens neighborhood Wednesday, an airline spokesman said.

American said its engineers who inspected the Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine found damage “consistent” with failures caused by objects sucked into similar turbofan engines.

“To some trained eyes, it sure looked that way,” said the spokesman, Tim Smith.

The debris could have come from a runway other than LaGuardia Airport’s, Smith said.

The MD-80 jet took off from LaGuardia Wednesday about 8:15 a.m. The plane, which has two engines, made an emergency landing at Kennedy Airport at 8:36 a.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which collected the engine parts that fell on a commercial building in College Point, is also investigating. There were no reports of injuries from the falling pieces.

Arlene Salac, an FAA spokeswoman in New York, said the agency wouldn’t speculate on what caused the problem.

Smith said American Airlines, which is based in Dallas, won’t know definitively what caused the engine failure until the engine is taken apart and inspected at a maintenance facility in Tulsa, Okla. It could take a week, he said.

Bound for Chicago, Flight 309, which carried 88 passengers and five crew members, landed safely.