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Plane engine explodes seconds before take off at London City Airport

Photo courtesy of air passenger Mike Mompi, 28. Pic: Mike Mompi/PA Wire Photo courtesy of air passenger Mike Mompi, 28. Pic: Mike Mompi/PA Wire

Friday, March 28, 2014
8:06 AM

An engine blew up on an airliner seconds before it was due to leave London City Airport yesterday, a passenger has revealed.

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Emergency services tend to the downed Swiss International plane at London City Airport. Pic: Twitter/@gunnerette2011Emergency services tend to the downed Swiss International plane at London City Airport. Pic: Twitter/@gunnerette2011

Four people needed treatment for minor injuries after Geneva-bound flight LX437 with 74 passengers and four crew on board suffered an engine problem, airport authorities said.

Mike Mompi, 28, who was flying to Switzerland for a ski holiday, said the Swiss International Airlines Avro RJ100 aircraft was revving up on the runway for take-off when it happened.

He said: “There was a large bang and flames which grew and grew and large chunks of what looked like chunks of red-hot metal started flying up.

“People started freaking out.”

He added: “In about 20 seconds we would have been in the air.”

The runway at the Newham-based airport was closed for more than an hour after the incident at 3pm.

Mr Mompi, who is originally from California but lives in Shoreditch, said there had been “a bit of a panic” before the captain ordered everyone to evacuate.

The social impact investment adviser for London firm Impact Investment said he didn’t think anyone had been injured by the engine.

He suggested it was more likely they were hurt as people tried to get off the aircraft.

Swiss International confirmed the aircraft had suffered an engine problem and the pilot aborted take-off.

A spokesman said: “The pilot aborted take-off at low speed due to an engine problem. Passengers and crew have been safely evacuated.”

She added the company had launched an investigation into the cause of the incident.

An airport spokeswoman said the plane had suffered a “technical issue” and three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries by the London Ambulance Service.

The runway reopened at 4.15pm but passengers have been warned they face disruption.

It is the latest incident to feature an RJ100 at the airport.

In February 2009 a British Airways flight from Amsterdam crash-landed there when one of its wheels failed.

The 67 passengers and four crew on the flight from Amsterdam were evacuated and paramedics treated four people for minor injuries.

The aircraft derives from the old British Aerospace 146.

When the hub in Docklands opened in 1987, the BAe 146 was for a time the only aircraft able to use the airport.

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