FAA Investigates Possible Plane Part That Fell From Sky

An airplane part, apparently from a JetBlue flight that experienced engine trouble, was turned over to a Federal Aviation Administration official today by a Fountain Valley woman who found it in Huntington Beach.

The FAA official who collected the 36-inch-long rectangular metal part, called a C duct, said it would be turned over the the National Transportation Safety Board.

It was found by Cindy Gilbert, who said she saw the roughly three-pound part drop from the sky while riding her bicycle Thursday near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street and took it home in the basket of her bicycle.

Flight 1416 bound for Austin, Texas, with 147 people aboard, took off from Long Beach Airport around 9:05 a.m. Thursday, and 10 minutes later the pilot reported an "overheat warning" on its No. 2 engine, officials said.

Passengers reported hearing a loud bang before the plane's cabin began filling with smoke.

The plane landed safely back at the airport around 9:30 a.m., and passengers slid down emergency slides onto the tarmac. They were eventually loaded into buses and returned to the terminal. Four people were treated by paramedics, one of whom was taken to a hospital after reporting breathing difficulties, but none of them were seriously injured.

Passengers had to use the slides to evacuate the jet because there was smoke inside the cabin, according to Jake Heflin of the Long Beach Fire Department.

"That's why the pilots ordered the slides to be used," Heflin said. "The pilots also deployed fire extinguishing agents on the No. 2 engine and those agents also caused some smoke."

Heflin said it didn't appear there was an explosion in the damaged engine, and it was unclear if there was an actual fire because of the smoke caused by the fire extinguishing agents.

The jet landed on the airport's main runway and for a time the airport was closed to commercial traffic, according to Jessica Felipe of JetBlue and Long Beach Airport officials. Inbound flights were temporarily redirected to nearby airports and travelers were urged to call their airlines concerning delays in their flights, Felipe said.

The airport reopened by about 11:30 a.m. when the JetBlue plane was towed off the main runway.

The plane had 142 passengers and five crew members aboard, according to the airport.

Actor Jackson Rathbone, 29, best known for his role in the "Twilight" films, was among the passengers and described the harrowing ordeal on his Twitter page and the website whosay.com.

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