Caught on camera: Sparks fly from United Airlines flight after takeoff

A United Airlines flight leaving Newark Liberty International Airport Thursday night was forced to turn back after it started to spark shortly after takeoff.
United Flight 149 was headed to Sao Paolo, Brazil. Sparks started falling from the aircraft as it flew over New Jersey. The incident was recorded on camera by college student Murtalla Mbacke.
“I saw sparks coming from the back of it, so I got my phone instantly and started recording,” he says.
Mbacke takes pictures of aircrafts as a hobby. He was on his way to do just that when he spotted United 149. He says he never thought he would capture an aircraft at the moment it began sparking.
“It was already close to the runway. I already knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get a photo of it, at least at my spot. But I knew it was coming,” Mbacke says.
A spokesperson for United Airlines wrote in part, “After our aircraft experienced a mechanical issue shortly after takeoff, it remained in the air to burn fuel and then landed safely.”
Aviation experts say that it is important for aircraft to burn fuel before making emergency landings because the sparks could potentially cause excess fuel to ignite and start a fire.
United Airlines says that an initial maintenance inspection points to a hydraulic pump issue.
There were 256 passengers on the plane at the time. No one was hurt. Those passengers were rebooked on another flight that left earlier on Friday.