There are certain things that can make flying a more enjoyable experience: comfortable seats, plenty of leg room, and a quality movie selection, for starters. But the one thing you really want is to make it to your final destination in one piece.
Passengers aboard Delta flight 1425 from Atlanta, Georgia, to Baltimore, Maryland, had a bit of a scare midflight on Monday due to a fault with one of the plane's engines. The good news is that aside from risking a small heart attack, each one of the 148 travelers made it out unharmed. But it did require an emergency landing in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a rescue team was already waiting.
After departing from Hartsfield-Jackson International, Atlanta, at 12:48 pm local time, passengers had roughly an hour of relative calm (crying babies and drunken stags, notwithstanding) before the crew reported a problem with the engine.
"After we heard the boom, we just saw all this smoke come up into the cabin and that's when we really started freaking out... It started slowing down a little bit and it was getting hot. The air cut off," Avery Porch, a passenger, told ABC News affiliate WMAR-TV in Baltimore. "I was about to be the first person to jump off."
"The captain came on the loudspeaker and said that we had lost an engine and that they were making preparations to have an emergency landing," Jose Bahamonde-Gonzalez told WMAR-TV.
In the end, all was well and the plane landed at Raleigh-Durham International at around 2:27 p.m, with passengers being told to put their heads down and brace for impact. Thanks to a video taken by one of the passengers on board, we can see exactly what was going on when the engine was failing and the plane was still up in the air.
According to Delta, the incident was a contained failure of the left engine – and the metal object you can see ricocheting around the engine in the video is the nose cone. The plane involved was a 32-year-old MD-88, which the Metro reports is the oldest aircraft currently in service with any major airline and is nicknamed "Mad Dog" (presumably because it is so uncomfortable to fly).
The MD-88 is used for short-haul domestic flights but is due to be phased out in favor of Airbus A321-200s and Boeing 737-900ERs, Simply Flying reports. Of the 79 MD-88s in service, 40 will be retired this year.
As for this most recent debacle, Delta has apologized to the passengers involved for the inconvenience it caused. According to WMAR-TV, travelers were offered a $30 food voucher to use as they waited for the next flight.
While stories like these can be scary, it is worth remembering that the chances of being involved in an airplane crash is incredibly small. Despite some horrific accidents involving Boeing's (now grounded) 737 Max, risk of death from commercial flying is in decline – the odds of your plane being involved in an accident is just one in 1.2 million and the odds of actually dying in a crash are even smaller (one in 11 million).
Compare that to a one in 5,000 chance of dying in a car accident, a one in 161,856 chance of dying from a lightning strike, or a one in 11,125 chance of dying in a mass shooting. (The latter is based on US figures).