Heathrow Airport runways closed after plane 'fire'

May 24 2013

Both runways were closed at Heathrow Airport after a British Airways (BA) plane made an emergency landing, the airport has said.

All passengers and crew were "safely evacuated" from the plane following an engine fault at about 09:00 BST.

BA said the Heathrow to Oslo service turned back after a technical fault. Witnesses reported seeing flames coming from the engine.

The southern runway has reopened. The northern runway remains closed.

BA said the Airbus A319 was carrying 75 passengers - who were safely evacuated - and a "full investigation" would be conducted into the incident.

John Coghlan told the BBC he saw a "black smoke trail" from the engine of a British Airways Airbus A319.

He said: "[It was a] safe landing and passengers evacuated by chutes on runway."

Jez Stamp, from Farnham in Surrey, who was on a plane waiting to take off to Jordan, said: "I could see smoke on the right engine.

"We just saw it come to a halt and fire engines were already there waiting for it and they immediately started hosing the plane down."

London Fire Brigadetweeted: "One crew from Heathrow fire station is assisting Heathrow Airport's fire service with an aircraft fire.

"We believe the fire is now out."

Rob Brownell, 33, saw the plane from Imperial Wharf Station in central London and told the BBC flames were "clearly visible".

He said: "There was this almighty rumbling overheard - I looked up and saw the plane on fire. There were flames coming not just from the engine but lapping the wing.

"My initial thought was, my God this thing is going to blow up - the wings are full of fuel so I couldn't see how there could not be an explosion."

He added: "It left a black smoke trail in the sky and there was a smell of aviation fuel afterwards."

According to the website planefinder.net, the plane turned over Potter's Bar and Billericay before returning to Heathrow.

Captain Mark Searle, Chairman of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) said: "This was a professional job done by professional people.

"As pilots we spend our whole career training to manage incidents such as this in order to avoid an incident becoming a disaster.

"BALPA representatives will be assisting the pilots involved in this incident and providing whatever support they need."

The airport said that 23 flights had been diverted as a result of the incident and advised travellers to contact their airlines to see if their flight has been affected.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News 2013 BBC

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