“After our aircraft experienced a mechanical problem shortly after takeoff, it remained in the air to burn fuel and then landed safely,” United said in a statement. Passengers disembarked at the gate and a new plane is scheduled to depart this morning.
United Airlines said an initial maintenance check indicated there was a problem with the hydraulic pump on board the flight, which was carrying 256 passengers on the flight.
Sparks flew from the plane as it climbed after takeoff, according to a video posted online purporting to show the flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating what happened to Flight 149, which departed Newark Airport late Wednesday night, and then declared a state of emergency. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Boeing 777-200 was bound for Sao Paulo, Brazil, before returning to Newark.
The hydraulic system on the Boeing 777 manages major systems, such as the landing gear, flaps, and brakes. There are three redundant hydraulic systems on board, which means two systems can fail and the plane can still operate normally.
Flight tracking data shows the plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean to burn off fuel before returning to the airport about two hours after departure.
CNN has reached out to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for comment.
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