NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A tense few hours for some air passengers Saturday night.
A United Airlines flight that took off from Newark Liberty Airport bound for Berlin, Germany had to make an emergency landing back at Newark Airport.
One witness on the ground told CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian she saw the plane shoot flames.
“So we’re looking at the plane. It looked like the left wing of the plane we could see sparks, kind of like fireballs shooting out of it. And we realized that that was fire and smoke was coming out of it as well,” Keisha Thomas told Dardashtian.
Flight 96 circled in the air for nearly two hours to dump fuel so it could make a safe emergency landing.
The plane blew tire on take-off, possibly sending debris into the engine. The pilot realized something was wrong right away and was in radio contact with the control tower.
“We blew a tire and…declare an emergency,” the pilot told air traffic controllers.
The controllers got emergency vehicles deployed to the tarmac ahead of the 757’s emergency landing and stayed in radio contact with the pilot.
“Whatever we can do to help you, sir, we’re going to do it,” someone in the control tower told the pilot.
There were 173 people on board. No injuries were reported.