(Adds comment from Pratt & Whitney)
By Heather Somerville
SAN FRANCISCO Nov 28 A United Airlines
flight bound for Japan experienced an engine malfunction after
takeoff on Monday and returned to San Francisco International
Airport, where it landed safely, airline and federal aviation
No injuries were reported from the incident involving United
Flight 837, which ended when the four-engine Boeing Co
747 aircraft touched down without further incident shortly
before 1:45 p.m. (2145 GMT).
A United Airlines spokeswoman, Erin Benson, said the plane
was carrying 202 passengers and 15 crew members en route to
Narita International Airport on Tokyo. The Federal Aviation
Administration initially reported that 231 people were aboard
The landing was described as "normal" in radio
communications between the flight crew and air traffic
controllers, as monitored on specialist website liveatc.net.
Shortly after the landing, the pilot contacted ground
controllers to explain the trouble.
"We need the fire department to take a look at our No. 2
engine because it had an indication of compressor stall and
possibly some paint that came out during the compressor stall,"
the pilot was heard saying.
Benson also cited a stalled compressor in one of the engines
as the reason for the plane's return to San Francisco, adding
that the airline could not confirm media reports of smoke or
fire from the incident.
The aircraft was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines.
The engine maker is working with the operator to assess the
situation, a Pratt & Whitney spokeswoman said.
The airlines spokeswoman also said the pilot did not declare
an emergency and that the landing followed about two hours of
total flight time, including steps the crew took to dump excess
jet fuel as a precaution before touchdown.
The flight-tracking website flightradar24 shows the plane
flew several lengthy circuits just off the Pacific Coast west
and south of San Francisco before returning to the airport to
land - a sign that the trouble started soon after takeoff.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the problem occurred with the
"inboard engine on the left side" of the plane. He gave no
A compressor stall is a sudden disruption to the core of an
engine caused by abnormal airflow. It can be caused by a
collision with birds or by unusual weather, according to
Local ABC News affiliate KGO-TV reported that one of the
engines had caught fire and was shut down soon after takeoff.
Live television coverage of the plane's landing showed no sign
of smoke or flames.
(Additional reporting by Dan Levine and Noel Randewich in San
Francisco, David Shepardson in Washington, Jeffrey Dastin in Los
Angeles, Tim Hepher in Paris and Alwyn Scott in New York;
Editing by Andrew Hay, Jonathan Oatis and Gopakumar Warrier)