A British Airways (BA) airplane made an emergency landing at Heathrow earlier today, forcing the closure of both of the airport’s runways.
The landing was carried out at 09.00 BST, and all passengers and crew were safely evacuated. BA said in a statement that flight BA762, en route from Heathrow to Oslo in Norway, had returned to Heathrow shortly after takeoff due to a technical fault. The aircraft, an Airbus A319, had 75 passengers on board and BA has promised a full investigation into the problem.
Following the incident, the southern runway was reopened but there was a delay in reopening the northern runway.
The BBC has reported several eyewitness accounts of the incident, including that of Jez Stamp, from Farnham in Surrey, who was on another plane that was waiting to take off to Jordan. He 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.’
Another eyewitness who saw the plane from Imperial Wharf Station in central London, Rob Brownell, told the BBC that flames were ‘clearly visible and 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 also said that the aircraft ‘left a black smoke trail in the sky and there was a smell of aviation fuel afterwards.’
The broadcaster also reported a tweet from the London Fire Brigade that read, ‘One crew from Heathrow fire station is assisting Heathrow Airport’s fire service with an aircraft fire. We believe the fire is now out.’
Authorities at Heathrow have said that 23 other flights had to be diverted during the incident.