During the flight preparation, approximately 20 minutes prior to departure from Fort Lauderdale-Holywood International Airport (Florida, USA) became aware of fuel quantity and distribution issues.
The fire damaged aircraft the day after the accident (© Wilfredo Lee) As the boarding of the 90 passengers for the flight continued, the crew could sort out the issue. With all preparations for the flight completed the aircraft was pushed back from its gate at 12.28 lt (local time) and the engines were started for the flight to Caracas-Simón Bolivar International Airport. While the Boeing 767 was taxiing towards runway 28R, at 12.32 lt, the crew of an aircraft taxing behind the aircraft contacted ATC informing them they saw a large amount of fluid leaking from the left engine of the Boeing 767. The transmission was heard by the crew of the Boeing and they advised ATC they would return to the ramp. ATC Subsequently instructed the crew to stop the aircraft on the taxiway (taxiway B just east of taxiway T1). 1 minute after reporting the fluid leak the crew of the aircraft behind the Boeing 767 reported to ATC the engine was on fire. The crew of the Boeing immediately shut down the engine using the memory items for an engine fire and requested the airport fire department to be alerted.
The fire damaged fuselage and inboard wing (Source: guyanaaviation.com © Unknown) Passengers in the cabin observed the fire and started to move away from the lefthand side of the aircraft, while the aircraft was still taxiing. After the aircraft had come to a stop an emergency evacuation was initiated through the forward left (1L), forward right (1R), and aft right (2R) cabin doors. The slide rafts deployed. The right overwing exit was opened, however, the evacuation slide did not deploy and this exit was not used during the evacuation. As the evacuation was initiated by the cabin crew and the #2 engine (Right-hand engine) was still running when the flight crew gave the evacuation order. A passenger that evacuated from the aft right door passed behind the running engine and was caught by the jet blast, making the passenger fall, and causing serious injuries. 35 seconds later the #2 engine was shut down. Just under 2 minutes after the aircraft stopped the airport t firefighting vehicles arrived and began extinguishing the fire.
The aircraft is on fire and the evacuation is just initiated, the aft right slide is being blown away by the jet blast of engine #2 (Source; i.ytimg.com © Unknown)
Besides the seriously injured passenger caused by the jet blast, 20 passengers received minor injuries, and one crew member also sustained minor injuries.
Damage to the aircraft was extensive, there was fire damage to;
the left engine
the left engine pylon
the left wing and its flight controls
the left landing gear
the left side of the fuselage (partially)
The damage was so substantial the aircraft was written off as damaged beyond repair.
The last of the smoke is clearing after the fire was extinguished (Source: guyanaaviation.com © Unknown)
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was alerted and started an investigation. After an extensive investigation (lasting 4 years and 7 months) the NTSB report was published on the 6th of August 2020. In their report, the NTSB stated that the probable cause of this accident was the separation of a flexible fuel line coupling and subsequent fuel leak due to the failure of maintenance personnel to install the required safety lock wire. A contributing factor to the severity of the accident was the initiation of the evacuation before the right engine was shut down which led to the passenger's injury. Click on the .pdf file below to get access to the NTSB report which served as the source for this blog.
Audio recording of the ATC communication from the accident (Source; Youtube.com / AviationNetworkHD)