Boeing 747 cargo plane spotted on fire mid-air in Miami had 'softball size hole'

Atlas Air will conduct an inspection to determine why the plane went up in flames, a spokesperson said

A Boeing 747 cargo plane was on fire as it made an emergency landing at Miami International Airport shortly after takeoff, according to a witness.

The aircraft landed safely on Thursday night “after experiencing an engine malfunction soon after departure," a spokesperson for Atlas Air said in a statement on Friday.

Post-flight inspection revealed a "softball size hole" above the second engine, a statement by the Federal Aviation Administration said, as reported by CNN.

The crew followed all standard procedures and safely returned to the airport.

Melanie Adaros, who saw the plane fly overhead, said the airplane was "shooting sparks".

“There’s always planes flying overhead, but they’re little planes,” she said.

“But this didn’t sound like a little plane. It sounded very low, so I turned ... You always see a plane going up or going down.

"This one was just at a steady level and it was shooting sparks. It was very surreal.”

The Boeing 747 was on its way to Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico when the crew reported an engine failure, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Friday. 

The cargo plane landed safely back at Miami International Airport. Credit: AP

Atlas will conduct an inspection to determine the cause, the spokesperson said.

Boeing has come into the spotlight recently after a door flew off Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jet mid-flight.

The door crashed into a man's garden, while other unusual items were found across Beaver, Oregon.

Boeing "indefinitely" grounded its 737 Max 9 jets as a result of the incident.

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