SFO International Terminal

Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

Engine Trouble Forces SFO-Sydney Flight To Return

Passengers Report Hearing Loud Noise

KCBS Radio Morning News
July 13, 2018 - 7:27 am

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KCBS Radio) -- Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight bound from San Francisco to Sydney heard loud noises, saw sparks, and smelled jet fuel shortly after takeoff. Two hours later, they were back at SFO, because of the engine trouble. 

United Flight 863, a Boeing 787-9 "Dreamliner", departed SFO at 10:47 pm Thursday with 259 people on board. The plane landed safely at 12:39 am Friday.

"United Flight 863 San Francisco to Sydney returned to San Francisco due to a mechanical issue. The flight landed safely and we will work to get our customers to Sydney as soon as possible. Our maintenance team is inspecting the aircraft," the airline said in a statement. 

Passengers on the flight told KCBS Radio reporter Holly Quan that the incident involved the plane's #1, or left, engine.

The 787-9 is a twin-engined long-haul widebody airliner.