By: AirTravellerStaff PH
Just today, a Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-300ER declared an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport after flames were spitting out from the right engine or engine #2. The flight was headed to Manila. The pilot Captain Triston Simeon declared mayday emergency landing, did a go around, and landed approximately 12 to 15 minutes shortly after rotation. In the recording, the pilot mentioned "engine surge".
While there are still no official results pending the investigation of what happened to the PAL Boeing 777, it would be too hard to come up with an immediate conclusion right away but if indeed it is proven and official that the cause of the flames were brought by engine surge, here is a little information about an engine surge just for everyone's general information.
So what exactly is an engine surge or compressor stall and why do flames spit out?
An engine surge or compressor stall happens basically when there is a starvation of air or disruption of airflow into the aircraft's engine. This may be caused by many factors like debris on the runway, intense maneuvering, or any other factor that may cause a starvation of air. Pilots would normally reduce the thrust or power of the affected engine until the stall is gone. Air and fuel and compressed in the turbines which produce thrust and then there is a starvation of air, the engines run rich. This results to an engine to back fire, brought by unburned fuel coming into the exhaust, resulting to popping sounds and flames spitting out of the engine which only disappear when the pilot reduces thrust.
Compressor surge was common among older generation aircraft but today's aircraft still suffer from such problems and pilots are highly trained to deal with this situation. Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have specified procedures in order for pilots to avert the situation.