Chaos on Southwest flight as cabin fills with smoke and passengers don oxygen masks after ‘boom, like an explosion’ when engine catches fire following bird strike: Hero female pilot makes perfect emergency landing shortly after take-off for Fort Lauderdale
- Plane bound for Fort Lauderdale from Havana was forced to return to Havana
- Video footage showed smoke filling the cabin as parents and children panicked
- Passengers evacuated the plane on inflatable slides on the runway at Marti Airport after the heroic female pilot steered the Boeing 737 back to the ground
A Southwest Airlines flight to Florida became a terrifying hellscape after a bird struck one of the plane’s engines, causing the cabin to fill with smoke.
Flight 3923 from Havana to Ford Lauderdale was forced to make an emergency landing soon after takeoff on Sunday when an engine caught fire.
On-board footage shows panicked passengers engulfed in smoke with oxygen masks lowered and parents attempting to help their children. It was reported not all masks were properly released, and some had bloodied knuckles from banging on the roof in desperation.
Passenger Steven Rodriguez told NBC 6 there was ‘a big boom, like an explosion’ before the cabin started to fill with smoke and emergency lighting came on.
With only one engine functioning on the Boeing 737, a heroic female pilot made a safe emergency landing at Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport.
A Southwest Airlines plane bound for Fort Lauderdale from Havana was forced to return to Cuba’s Jose Marti Airport Sunday after an engine reportedly caught fire, causing chaos and terror for passengers inside, following a bird strike
Emergency lighting inside the plane was lit and footage showed customers evacuating the jet via emergency slides on the runway at Cuba’s largest airport as firemen and trucks looked on
Steven Rodriguez, a passenger on the flight, compared the sound before the smoke appeared as ‘like a big boom, a big explosion.’
‘Southwest flight #3923 departing Havana, Cuba, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday morning reportedly experienced bird strikes to an engine and the aircraft’s nose shortly after takeoff,’ a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement.
‘We commend the swift, professional actions of our pilots and flight attendants in responding to this event. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and have reached out to address their needs and offer support.’
Rodriguez claimed that the safety precautions, like masks, available to passengers were of little use.
‘People started taking matters into their own hands and by force were punching the roof to eject the masks,’ Rodriguez told NBC6. ‘And people had bloody knuckles and all because they were punching the roof. There were little kids on the plane and elderly women.’
None of the 147 passengers and crew of six was injured and passengers were able to safely get off the plane at Marti Airport.
The captain was given praise and applause from travelers upon being able to land the plane.
Passengers are seen using the emergency slides in this video that was captured from coverage of the landing
Smoke filled the cabin on Southwest flight #3923 departing Havana, Cuba, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday morning after bird strikes caused an engine fire
‘The female captain was incredible,’ Jorge Montesino said. ‘With only one engine, the left engine, she was able to turn the plane around and land safely.’
However, passengers like Rodriguez were left to fear for their lives.
‘To be honest, I thought it was my time to go,’ he said. ‘I was terrified.’
Radio Rebelde, the state-run media outlet in Cuba, said the country’s aviation department blamed the strikes on ‘detected failures in one of its engines during the takeoff process.’
‘CACSA indicated that the causes that originated said event are being investigated and highlighted that, at this time, the airport facility maintains its regular operations,’ Radio Rebelde said.
Southwest Airlines would not confirm an engine failure but told CNN that the company will ‘review the aircraft to assess the damage but do not have additional details to share at this time.’
They said that customers and crew would be given alternate accommodations to get to Fort Lauderdale, with most having been booked for Monday morning.