CBS News reported that the plane made an emergency landing on Tuesday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, from which it had earlier taken off.
The plane was scheduled to fly to Rio de Janeiro, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. Around two hours after takeoff, the site showed the plane circled back to George Bush Intercontinental Airport where it then landed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Insider in a statement: “United Airlines Flight 129 landed safely at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after the crew reported a possible fire in the left engine around 9:20 p.m. local time Tuesday, March 28. The Boeing 767 departed from Houston and was headed to Rio de Janeiro.”
United didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment. The airline told CBS News the flight experienced an “engine issue” and landed safely back at the airport, where passengers disembarked the aircraft. United said it had organized another flight to take affected passengers from Houston to Rio on Wednesday.
United previously told The Associated Press in a statement that it was a “mechanical issue.”
CBS News said it obtained an audio clip of a Skywest pilot telling air traffic control there was a “fire in the left engine” and “flames in the departure before us.” A United pilot then told the control tower the crew had declared the incident an emergency and the aircraft was returning to the airport, per the report.
The FAA, George Bush Airport, and Houston’s fire department didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A Twitter user wrote in a tweet on Tuesday that his sister, who said she was on the flight phoned, him “frantic and crying.” He said she told him it looked like a “firework show” outside of the plane
Another Twitter user shared a video, which they claimed was the view from the plane window, which showed a fire truck hosing down the aircraft. The user, who said they were on the flight, tweeted the incident was a “horror movie” and passengers were panicked and screaming when the engine caught fire.
Earlier this year, a United flight was forced to turn around mid-flight and return to San Diego International Airport after a passenger’s battery pack burst into flames, per NBC San Diego.