Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Probe Launched into Flight Drama; Flames Seen Coming from Right Engine

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Probe Launched into Flight Drama; Flames Seen Coming from Right Engine

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Woodman

AN investigation is under way into a dramatic incident over London as a smoke-trailing British Airways plane turned back to Heathrow airport with one engine on fire.

With emergency services standing by, the Airbus A319 landed safely and the 75 passengers and five crew were evacuated down emergency chutes.

The two pilots completed the landing after passengers described how "big flames" were seen coming from the right-hand engine as the Oslo-bound plane returned to Heathrow.

An engine cover on the left-hand engine also came loose, indicating that that engine, too, had been damaged - possibly by a birdstrike, which could also have affected the other engine.

London Ambulance staff said it had treated three people for minor injuries.

Both runways at Heathrow were shut for a time after the incident and although they re-opened later, BA cancelled all short-haul flights until 4pm yesterday - affecting the travel plans of thousands of people flying off for the bank holiday weekend and school half-term holidays.

The flight had left Heathrow at about 8.16am and had returned to the west London airport shortly after 8.40am.

One of the passengers, David Gallagher, explained what it had been like on board.

He said: "About eight or nine minutes into the flight there was a loud popping sound, not an explosion but definitely not usual sounds.

"There was some concern from passengers - people gasping and louder exclamations.

"The captain came on very calmly, said he was aware of the situation and that everything was running normally and he was going to run some tests to see what the right course would be.

"Then another five minutes after that there was a loud sound, and this time the right engine was clearly on fire. I mean, big flames, very visible from the rest of the cabin and lots of black smoke. …

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