18 passengers sue after fiery engine failure at O'Hare

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Eighteen passengers have filed a lawsuit against Boeing and American Airlines after the airplane they were on caught fire last month on the tarmac of O’Hare International Airport when part of an engine failed.

About 20 people were taken to hospitals after the right engine of Miami-bound American Airlines Flight 383 broke into four pieces about 2:30 p.m. Oct. 28, according to fire officials and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The suit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court also names as a defendant General Electric Aviation, claiming it sold a faulty engine that Boeing used to assemble an unsafe 767 aircraft. The passengers also claim American Airlines employees should have done a better job inspecting the plane, and that they failed to provide “assistance, supervision and instruction” during evacuation.

Spokesmen for Boeing and American declined to comment on the pending litigation. A representative for GE could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.

An NTSB report issued a week after the fire said one of the fractures on the turbine disk of the engine was “consistent with fatigue cracking.” Takeoff was aborted due to the “uncontained engine failure” that led to fuel pooling under the plane’s right wing, which then burst into flames, authorities said.

One piece of the turbine disk went through the inboard section of the right wing, over the fuselage and into a UPS warehouse facility more than a half-mile away. Another piece was found about 1,600 feet away, but it was still on O’Hare property, authorities said.

No fire breached the cabin, and the 20 hospitalized passengers had been released a night after the fire.

The five-count negligence suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

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