A British Airways B777 that burst into flames just before take-off in Las Vegas yesterday was one of two airliners to catch fire over the past couple of days.
The other was an Air India aircraft which had just arrived in New Delhi the day before.
More than 150 passengers and crew were evacuated from the BA B777 (shown below), which burned on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport. Thirteen people were hospitalised after the blaze. Experts said the pilots handled it “by the book” and dealt with the emergency in exactly the correct manner. They may well have saved lives by doing so.
Flight BA 2276 was bound for London’s Gatwick Airport and appears to have suffered a catastrophic failure of the port (left-hand) engine just before take-off.
Dramatic photos showed the aircraft billowing smoke. The plane was carrying 159 passengers and 13 crew.
The Aviation Herald reported that after coming to a stop, the crew radioed “Mayday, Mayday, need fire services”. The control tower replied fire services were already on their way; the crew advised they were evacuating.
Passengers spoke of panic aboard and of windows melting in the heat, which may have let smoke into the aircraft.
McCarran International Airport has four runways; the fire closed one of the four and flight operations continued on the other three.
The other plane which caught fire this week was Air India flight AI405, operated with an A320. The fire on that one broke out in mid-air, apparently after the plane suffered a hydraulic problem.
Passengers reported the left wing was on fire just before landing at Runway 27 at Delhi airport.
All 153 people on board including 144 passengers were evacuated safely, with five receiving minor injuries.
Written by Peter Needham