In Brief

BA plane fire: investigators find multiple breaches in engine casing

Initial investigation into the blaze in Las Vegas suggests that the engine failure was uncontained

A preliminary report into the British Airways plane that caught fire in Las Vegas has found 'multiple' breaches in the casing surrounding a key component of the engine.

The London- bound jet burst into flames on the runway earlier this week, forcing the evacuation of 172 people on board. The pilot told passengers the plane had suffered "catastrophic engine failure".

The US National Transportation Safety Board said investigators found parts of the high-pressure compressor component in the engine across the runway. The plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders will now be analysed, with a final report not expected for several months.

The most worrying part of this initial report is that it looks like the engine failure was uncontained, says the BBC's transport correspondent Richard Westcott.

"If an engine breaks, the casing is designed to stop any bits of metal flying out and damaging the rest of the aircraft, including the fuel tanks and critical wiring," he says. “Uncontained problems can be very serious."

Dr Colin Brown from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says investigators will now look into how new the part was and when it was last checked. If it is relatively new, planes with similar engines could be grounded while the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, the British captain who was praised for his response to the emergency has said he has finished flying. Chris Henkey, who is due to retire after four decades of flying experience with BA, told NBC that it is unlikely he will make his last flight.

"I was supposed to go to Barbados on Saturday and come back next Tuesday and that would be it," Henkey said. "It's safe to say I’m finished flying."

'Mayday, request fire services' - the air-traffic control conversation

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British Airways plane catches fire on Las Vegas runway

9 September

A British Airways jet bound for London burst into flames at a Las Vegas airport, forcing the evacuation of 172 people onboard. 

The Boeing 777, which was due to take off from McCarran airport and fly to London Gatwick, was taxiing down the runway when the fire broke out.

The pilot said the plane had suffered "catastrophic engine failure" and ordered passengers and crew to evacuate as the cabin filled with smoke and flames engulfed the plane.

Airport officials said everyone was safely evacuated, but 14 people were taken to hospital for minor injuries sustained from sliding down the evacuation chutes, The Guardian reports.

The newspaper's journalist Jacob Steinburg was on board the flight and shared his experience on social media. "Could smell and see smoke but was on other side of plane. One person said fire melted a couple of windows," he tweeted.

"They opened the back door and slide went down and smoke started coming in plane, followed by mad dash to front. A lot of panic," he said.

Other passengers at the airport shared dramatic images and video on social media as smoke billowed out of the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the fire started in the left engine shortly after 4pm local time. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway.

A British Airways spokesperson said the plane had suffered a "technical issue", adding that safety was the airline's priority and that passengers and crew were being looked after.

The pilot and crew have been widely praised by passengers for their "textbook" response to the emergency. "There was applause when the pilot emerged and spoke to everyone. He said he had been flying for years and had never seen anything like that," said Steinburg.

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