Air France flight 681 was scheduled to leave Atlanta at 4.35pm local time on Sunday and took off an hour and 12 minutes late for a 4397 mile flight to Paris CDG in France.
Shortly after taking off the captain of the Boeing 777-328 (ER) declared an emergency and immediately returned the 8-year-old plane with Registration F-GNZJ to Atlanta.
The emergency was declared after one of the two engines of this passenger aircraft malfunctioned during take-off.
Usually, planes need to dump fuel when landing with a full tank, but due to the imminent emergency, the captain decided to make a very hard landing instead. The plane was met with a fleet of fire trucks and emergency vehicles but was able to taxi to the gate safely
Passengers tweeted how thankful there are to the pilot and staff to avoid a disaster on this French airliner.
A passenger on American Airlines flight AA358 took off on a parallel runway with AF681. He told eTN: I saw fire and smoke shoot from the left engine on their climb — the plane then leveled off and began to appear to lose altitude. I took a photo of the aircraft shortly before I saw the fire and then I began to film the aircraft as long as I could.
Air France issued the following statement:
Air France confirms that the crew of flight AF681, operating between Atlanta and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, made the decision to return to Atlanta shortly after take-off due to a technical problem. This decision was made in accordance with the manufacturer’s procedures, company instructions, and the precautionary principle.
The plane landed normally at 18:10 local time. A technical inspection is in progress.
Flight AF681 was canceled. Air France staff are mobilized to take care of customers at the Atlanta station and offer them routing solutions to Paris. Air France regrets the inconvenience of this situation and stresses that the safety of its customers and crews is its utmost priority.”