A Boeing cargo plane headed to Puerto Rico was diverted Thursday night after taking off from Miami International Airport due to engine problems, according to an official and flight data. The episode is another potential setback for Boeing, which has been in the spotlight in recent weeks over quality control concerns.
Atlas Air Flight 5Y095 landed safely after experiencing an “engine malfunction” shortly after departure, the airline said early Friday.
“The crew followed all standard procedures and returned safely” to the airport, the company said in a statement. “At Atlas, safety is always our top priority and we will conduct a thorough inspection to determine the cause.”
It was unclear what type of cargo the plane was carrying.
Data collected by FlightAware, which tracks flight information, showed the plane was a Boeing 747-8 that left its gate at Miami International Airport at 10:11 p.m. Thursday and returned to the airport about 50 minutes later. The website also showed the plane traveled 60 miles in total.
A Boeing spokeswoman said early Friday that the company was deferring comment to Atlas Air; The Federal Aviation Administration said it would investigate the matter.
Atlas Air, which started in 1992 and is headquartered in New York, claims to operate the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, according to their website. The company also offers its customers a selection of aircraft, including Boeing 777 and 737, for cargo and passenger operations.
Problems began piling up for Boeing in late December when it urged airlines to inspect all 737 Max planes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system after one airline discovered a bolt was missing a nut during routine maintenance.
The company’s problems intensified in early January after a door panel flew off a 737 Max 9 plane operated by Alaska Airlines, causing an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon. The FAA then ordered the temporary grounding of 171 Max 9 aircraft until they were thoroughly inspected. causing hundreds of flight cancellations and headaches for travelers.
On Wednesday, FAA officials said an initial round of inspections of 40 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes had been completed, however those planes and many others would remain grounded until the agency approved instructions for airlines to inspect the planes. .
Amid Boeing’s struggles, longtime rival Airbus took the lead, announcing this month that it had delivered more planes and secured more orders than Boeing in 2023.