The passengers were detained for questioning.

Utair Airlines
Credit: Getty Images

Three passengers on a flight in Russia opened the emergency exit and climbed out onto the wing of a Boeing 737 after they spotted flames coming out of one of the plane’s engines. Cabin crew assured the passengers this was “normal,” according to the Independent.

The Utair flight was scheduled to leave Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport and was bound for Makhachkala, in the southwest of Russia. The Boeing 737 was taxiing along the tarmac when passengers spotted flames coming out from underneath one of the wings. One took a video in which a flight attendant can be heard delivering a safety speech over the loudspeaker. Panic ensued as passengers rushed out of their seats when they spotted the flames.

Three passengers — two men and a woman — seated in the emergency exit row opened the door and climbed out onto the wing of the plane.

“This was an ordinary situation, the plane was in order, passengers were in no danger,” a spokesperson for the airline told Russia’s RBC news. The spokesperson said the flames were caused by a disrupted air flow when the engine turned on, according to The Independent. A disrupted airflow is indeed a reason that flames may come out of an engine. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the engine itself it on fire. It could just be excess fuel burning off.

Despite this, the airline switched passengers to a different aircraft to continue the journey. (However, this could have to do with the fact that the plane would likely need to undergo inspection after an emergency exit was opened.)

The three passengers who attempted an escape were detained for questioning. They said they had been following the airline’s safety instructions when they stepped out.

“When the panic started, when people started to run, squashing each other, when they began screaming and yelling, in order to pacify them and to stop the panic we opened the emergency exit,” one of the passengers told The Sun.