BA Plane 'On Fire' As It Flew Over London

BA Plane 'On Fire' As It Flew Over London

A British Airways jet was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport as eyewitnesses reported seeing it "on fire" flying over central London.

A man who only gave his first name as Jamie told Sky News: "As you looked up you could just see the flames being chucked out of the engine ... It was on full fire when we saw it."

There were 186 flight cancellations in total and BA cancelled all short-haul flights in and out of the West London airport until 4pm on Froday when they resumed.

Passengers experienced delays of up to 40 minutes with departures and 25 minutes with arrivals.

Both runways were initially closed as the London Fire Brigade attended an "aircraft fire". They have since reopened.

The disruption came at the start of one of the year's busiest travel periods as people head abroad for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Normand Boivin, Heathrow Chief Operating Officer, said: "The temporary closure will result in a number of cancelled flights throughout the day and passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport."

Clive Cook, who lives under the flight path, told Sky News: "The actual engine itself was on fire.

"This plane was coming over and suddenly the tone of the engine changed dramatically, and I could almost say it sounded as if it was like a blowout, or an explosion."

What happened on the Oslo-bound aeroplane is not thought to be terror related and all passengers are safe and well.

Sky News presenter Jeremy Thompson was on a different flight coming into Heathrow and said that the pilot told them that they were being held up by a "bird strike" on a plane.

A statement from British Airways said: "Flight BA762 departed Heathrow at 8.16am and returned at 8.43am due to an engine technical fault.

"The Airbus A319 aircraft was carrying 75 customers and five crew.

"The aircraft landed safely and cabin crew evacuated customers using emergency slides. Airline colleagues are now caring for customers in the airport terminal.

"The airline has begun a full investigation into the incident and is working with the Air Accident Investigation Bureau to establish the cause."

Sky's Richard Suchet added: "Shortly after it was airborne, somebody in air traffic control spotted a fault with one of the engines and alerted the pilot. The pilot then turned round and came back to the airport."

According to The Aviation Herald, as the plane took off "a loud bang from the left hand engine was heard and the left hand engine's cowling doors went missing.

"While positioning for a return to Heathrow another loud bang was heard from the right hand engine, and the cowling doors went missing and the engine was trailing smoke."

Captain Mark Searle, chairman of airline pilots' association Balpa, congratulated the crew for the way the situation was handled.

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

Images taken from inside the plane show the engine that was not on fire exposed as it is overworked.

Commenting on the damage to the covering around that engine, aviation safety investigator, David Gleave, said: "It's not got much structural strength in it at all so it doesn't affect the ability of the aeroplane to actually hold onto its engine and keep it on the wing."