Falling debris from a Boeing 787 Dreamliner pelted a residential area near Rome shortly after take-off over the weekend, damaging 25 vehicles and 12 homes and striking one person, KOMO News reported.
The Norwegian Air flight DY-7115 was scheduled to fly from Rome to Los Angeles, but after reaching 3,000 feet, the pilots declared an emergency and returned to Rome for a safe landing, approximately 23 minutes after departure.
There were 298 passengers on board, none of whom were injured.
The falling debris struck the Isola Sacra neighborhood, where residents described hundreds of glowing pieces of metal raining down from the sky, the KOMO report said.
“It was a storm of steel and iron,” one resident told the Il Messaggero newspaper. “I screamed and ran into the house.”
One person reported suffering minor burns, saying, “They were like bullets. My shirt was on fire.”
The debris apparently came from the jetliner’s left engine, a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000, a model that has been plagued with problems.
A spokeswoman for Norwegian said simply that there had been “indications of a technical failure,” but added that the aircraft landed safely.
Writing on Facebook, a local mayor said the aircraft lost metal chunks “that fell at great speed to the ground.”
“When falling, these fragments hit parked cars, garden sheds and other objects, damaging them,” the mayor wrote.
Police, firefighters and civil protection officers all had to be rushed to the site, he added.
The plane in question was a 5 1/2-year-old Boeing 787-8 built in Everett, Washington, the KOMO report said.
The extent of the technical problems suffered after take-off, what caused the parts to break away and just how close this incident was to a disaster is not yet known. The parts are believed to have come from the port engine.
Italy’s aviation safety agency has launched an investigation. It’s also expected that checks will be made on engines of a similar type, and on maintenance procedures at Rolls-Royce and Norwegian.
According to Corriere Della Sela, the incident could have been much worse, Forbes reported.
“Only a few more moments of flight and the incandescent splinters would have hit the center of town, or the crowded beaches of the Roman coast.”