Air India plane engine catches fire, all safe (Roundup)

September 4th, 2009 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 4 (IANS) A probe has been ordered after 229 passengers and crew of a Riyadh-bound Air India flight had a narrow escape here Friday as they had to be hastily evacuated after one of the aircraft’s engines caught fire while proceeding for take-off.
According to officials, a fuel leak was a possible cause of the fire and the maintenance engineer overseeing the aircraft has been suspended. Both Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation have ordered probes.

The ground staff noticed the fire and smoke from the engine around 10:50 a.m. while the aircraft had begun to taxi towards the runway. Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire even as a drill was launched to evacuated passengers using slides.

The AI-829 flight, deployed on a Boeing 747-437 aircraft named “Konark”, was bound for the Saudi Arabian capital from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here in India’s commercial and entertainment hub.

“The fire was in one of the engines. It was noticed during push back (during the taxiing after doors were ordered shut). It was immediately extinguished. All 213 passengers plus crew were evacuated,” Air India spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava said.

“All the passengers are safe. They will be sent to Riyadh on an alternative flight. The arrangements are being made,” Bhargava told IANS, adding: “The cause of fire is being ascertained.”

According to the ground staff at the airport, the fire was noticed on the engine fitted below the left wing of the aircraft of 1993 vintage. It was immediately ordered to be brought to a halt, emergency services were deployed and rescue operation launched.

The passengers were evacuated by making them slide through the four exit doors and were later taken to the terminal building as the fire was being brought under control by the fire brigade services at the airport.

In the process, some passengers received minor injuries and were given first aid.

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