TOKYO – When Naru Kurokawa heard the weekend news that a Boeing 777 engine had caught fire over the U.S., he remembered his own panic in December when an engine had exploded while he was flying over Japan on the same jet type.
“I was panicking in my head, thinking about how I was maybe going to die,” said the 40-year-old, describing his alarm when the Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) Boeing 777 he was on was forced to make an emergency landing about 40 minutes after take off
“I thought I would go insane if I accepted the thought of death, so I focused on taking videos of the situation,” he said of the Dec. 4 flight to Tokyo that was forced to return to Okinawa airport because of a malfunction in the left engine.
He posted the video on his Twitter account here.
A United Airlines Boeing 777 encountered an engine fire on Saturday, spreading debris over the US city of Denver and causing Boeing to request airlines to cancel 777 flights using the same Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.
On Sunday, Japan’s Ministry of Transport ordered JAL and ANA Holdings Inc to suspend the use of 777s with that type of engine while considering whether to take additional action.
“Watching videos of the United Airlines flight and engines in flames brought back the fear I experienced,” said Kurokawa, a web director and musician from Okinawa.
When he heard a loud tearing noise followed by an immense shake, he was making a video from his seat next to the window on the left side of the aircraft.
Minako Kuroshima, an employee of the Okinawa Times newspaper who was also on the JAL flight, wrote afterwards that a pilot had told passengers that the aircraft was flying with just the right engine.
The JAL aircraft was making an emergency landing. Among the 11 crew and 178 passengers, there were no casualties, local media reported.
On Dec. 28, the Japan Transport Safety Board said that two of the fan blades of the left engine were found damaged, one from a fatigue fracture. In other areas of the aircraft, including the engine cowl and fuselage, damage was also observed.
A spokesperson for the safety board said the probe into the JAL incident was ongoing on Monday.