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‘Flames shoot out’ of Virgin 737 flying to Melbourne

written by Jake Nelson | June 17, 2024

Seth Jaworski shot this Virgin Australia 737-800, VH-YIV, at Sydney in 2014.

A Virgin Australia flight leaving New Zealand has been forced to divert after reports of an engine fire.

Flight VA148 from Queenstown to Melbourne, operated by the 10-year-old 737-800 VH-YIV (pictured at Sydney in 2014), departed around 6pm local time but appeared to have engine trouble shortly after take-off, with reports on social media of “loud bangs” being heard from the aircraft.

The flight was diverted to Invercargill, according to a Queenstown Airport spokesperson, with Virgin Australia confirming it is aware of the incident.

Virgin Australia flight VA148 from Queenstown to Melbourne diverted to Invercargill Airport and landed safely following a possible bird strike on take-off this evening,” the airline said in a statement.

“The aircraft has been met by emergency services at Invercargill Airport. The safety of our guests and crew is our highest priority.”


One witness, Matt Foot, told NZ news outlet Newshub that there were “flames shooting out of the back” of one engine, which was “revving like [he] had never heard before”.

“I had a good view as I was walking along the Kawarau River with my dog, so the flames … were quite bright,” Foot said.

“The engine sounded as though it was over-revving and it would do that twice, and then shoot flames from right around the back of the jet.

“I watched this repeat approximately 12 to 14 times before the plane disappeared around the side of the Gibbston Valley hill. The plane appeared to be struggling to gain speed or altitude.”

Another resident, Shayne Galloway, said the aircraft “sounded like it was coming apart over [his] house”.

“One engine was throwing flames and sputtering out,” he said on Facebook.

More to come.

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