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Stunning images of Air France A380 engine destroyed in flight

Commentary: Passengers on an Air France flight look out the window and see that one of the plane's engines has been mysteriously wrecked.

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Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Serious damage.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When planes perform spectacularly, we celebrate them.

Sometimes, though, things go wrong. 

On Saturday, for example, passengers on Air France flight 066 from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Los Angeles looked out of the window and saw something disturbing.

The Airbus A380's No. 4 engine -- that's the one on the outside of the right wing -- had endured an explosion. One passenger, Miguel Amador, speculated this had been caused by a bird strike.

But the front cowling and the fan disc had completely come off. 

The plane was somewhere over Greenland at the time and was diverted to Goose Bay in Canada, where it landed safely. The A380 has four engines.

Air France didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The airline issued a statement on Sunday, however, in which it said: "The regularly trained pilots and cabin crew handled this serious incident perfectly."

The airline added: "An investigation is currently underway to shed light on this serious incident notably with representatives from the BEA (French Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau), the aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Air France."

But the magnitude of the damage looks stunning to the lay eye. Air France, indeed, described it as "serious."

Enrique Guillen, an NBC executive who was on the flight, told NBC News: "The plane started shaking, it was a noise like once of the engines was failing … a noise I had never heard before. We obviously knew it wasn't turbulence, it lasted about 30 seconds to one minute and we noticed the place was losing altitude very quickly."

The A380 was carrying 497 passengers. The plane has an excellent safety record since it was introduced in 2007.

As CNET reported from the Paris Air Show in June, Airbus unveiled the latest, most fuel-efficient version of the plane, called the A380plus. 

This will be be able to carry 575 passengers in four classes. It promises a new aerodynamic wing design, which helps cut fuel costs by 4 percent.