Three Delta Air Lines Inc. jets suffered separate engine emergencies over the weekend, despite a stepped-up maintenance program put in place partly to combat engine problems.
The trio of engine shutdowns — two on specially equipped planes used for long-haul international routes — all ended in safe emergency landings without injuries. They are being probed by Delta and federal safety experts.
The incidents included a Moscow-bound Delta Boeing 767 with more than 200 people aboard, which returned safely to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday after losing thrust from its left engine shortly after takeoff. A phalanx of fire trucks and more than 100 fire fighters showed up for the touchdown because of mistaken early reports that there was a fire from the engine or on a wing.
A Delta spokesman said late Sunday, "it's too early to speculate about the exact causes of each of these incidents." Officials won't know for at least a few days whether maintenance had a role in any of the incidents.
But the pattern is likely to prompt federal air-safety regulators and accident investigators to delve into maintenance practices at Delta, which suffered an unusual spate of in-flight engine malfunctions, shutdowns and other maintenance-caused delays and cancellations throughout the spring and part of the summer.