British Airways A319 forced to land using one engine shortly after take-off from west London airport
Engineers are investigating a British Airways plane that was forced to turn back to Heathrow with flames spitting from its engine moments after take-off.
The aircraft, an Airbus 319 bound for Lyon, had an engine surge and had to make a priority landing shortly after 9pm on Thursday.
BA ruled out a wider inquiry into its fleet of A319s, dubbed “Babybuses”.
Tom Puttick, who works near Heathrow, was working in the petrol station opposite the airport when he heard a bang: “I turned around and the airplane had flames spitting out of the engine with a spluttering noise as it was taking off.
“I then watched it continue to climb and the engine was still emitting flames intermittently. Lots of blue lights then emerged on the airport while the plane, I guess, turned around to make an emergency landing.”
The aircraft was forced to land using one engine, turning around mid-air to make a “priority landing” before passengers left on foot from the runway.
BA officials said the malfunction was caused by a “relatively minor technical issue” and declined to say whether and when the plane would be back in the air.
It is the second A319 to be forced to land in less than a year. Last May, one A319 had to make an emergency landing at Heathrow after a maintenance error led to engine parts being blown off the plane, triggering an urgent review by the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB).
BA said the incident would not cause delays to other scheduled flights on Friday and over the weekend.
A spokesman for the airline said: “A flight yesterday experienced what’s known as an engine surge as it took off, but it returned and landed normally at Heathrow.
“We train our pilots to the very highest standards including how to respond to these type of events. Our crew cared for our customers on board and kept them informed.
“We gave our customers, who were on the flight, hotel accommodation and they have been rebooked to fly today. We have also scheduled a larger aircraft to operate to Lyon to ensure we can get all our customers there as soon as possible. We can understand how frustrating the delay to their plans must be.”
There are almost 1,400 A319 passenger planes in operation around the world, with BA owning a fleet of 33.
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