(NEW YORK) — Dramatic video has surfaced of an airliner moments after its engine caught fire about 30,000 feet in the air above Turkey, which the airline attributed to a lightning strike.
Turkish Airlines says the plane with 114 people aboard made an emergency landing last Thursday after the incident.
A passenger caught the entire ordeal on tape as sparks were seen flying out of the damaged engine through the window. Passengers on board were warned of turbulence shortly before the lights in the cabin went dark. There was little panic on board the flight as everyone remained in their seats.
Amateur video taken from the ground showed a flame streaking across the night sky.
The flight was en route to Izmir from Istanbul and was preparing to land at Izmir when the lightning struck late Thursday, the airline said. The pilot quickly activated the motor’s own fire-extinguishing gear, declared an emergency and landed safely.
The company said no one was hurt.
ABC News aviation analyst John Nance said he doubts that the fire was caused by a lightning strike.
“There’s almost no likelihood that a lightning strike could have created any problem with the engine,” he said. “What we saw in the videos certainly looks frightening, but that is basically an engine just coming apart.”
Aviation experts say every airline in the sky is hit on average once a year and the chances of being hit in the air are 500 times more likely than on the ground.
An Emirates Airbus A380 was hit back in May 2011. That same spring, a United jet from San Francisco to London was also hit by lightning. Those planes landed safely, as did a JetBlue flight that took off from Tampa Bay, Fla., in 2011 that was hit twice while in mid-air.
“Jet liners are designed to be hit by lightning in the air and it happens all the time,” Nance said. “They simply absorb it because they are not grounded.”
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Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN