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Home > Emergencies > What if an engine catches fire in the air?
What if an engine catches fire in the air?
Flying - Emergencies
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 06:25

Hi Captain Lim,

Thank you for this website. As an aspiring pilot of 17 years old, I find this website very interesting and it answers all my anxious aviation questions.

Anyways, I noticed that in the "Emergencies" section under "Flying", I did not see any questions pertaining to a fire outside the plane. I want to ask what would happen if an engine caught fire. How would the pilot react in this situation? What damages can be done to the plane within the short period of time that the plane catches fire? 

I will greatly appreciate your response to my question. 

Justin

Hi Justin,

Engine fire in flight is a drill that all pilots are routinely tested on. Even though such an emergency is rare it is nevertheless a very important exercise that an examiner would like to see it is correctly carried out during the six-monthly check.

Amongst the drills, a pilot must identify the appropriate engine (confirmed by the other pilot), shut it down and activate the fire extinguishers (at least two bottles). Once the fire is extinguished, the plane is landed as soon as possible.

In the very short period when there is a fire, the structure of the plane is well shielded. See the videos of a typical engine fire on a Boeing 737, followed by how a pilot of a Boeing 757 react to an engine fire due to a bird strike and the last one on the exact fire drills by the Captain and First Officer of an Airbus A320 below:-

In addition, you can also read a related FAQ about in-flight fire in "I don't want to die in an in-flight fire!"

Boeing 737 Engine on Fire
Boeing 757 Engine on Fire at Manchester Airport
Airbus A320 Engine Fire Drill in a Simulator

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Autopilot
Is there a reason why he switched on the AP so soon after takeoff? Can pilots be forced to do so? When you were flying on the A320, when did you used to switch it on?
Richard , 09 May, 2011

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