The “technical issue” that resulted a British Airways passenger aircraft to become engulfed in flames and smoke is cause for an independent investigation.
There have been news reports this morning about the British Airways Boeing 777 with 172 people on board which caught fire shortly before taking off from Las Vegas McCarran airport because of a reported engine failure. Social media pictures have shown the dramatic scenes.
Fortunately, it seems the aircrew and airports emergency procedures ran smoothly, emergency slides were deployed and all passengers were evacuated but some injuries were sustained during the course of that evacuation. Eyewitness accounts and photographs show the extent of the fire and smoke. A British Airways statement said the aircraft “experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off.” This was described as a “catastrophic failure of the engine” by the aircraft’s pilot.
It is vital that the US National Transportation Safety Board now conducts an independent investigation to determine the probable cause of the fire with a view to ensuring the future safety of flights. They have a duty to address safety deficiencies immediately, and can issue recommendations before the completion of their investigations. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has a similar role for UK accidents and incidents, investigating with the purpose of improving aviation safety globally by determining the causes of air accidents and serious incidents, and making safety recommendations intended to prevent recurrence.
The Montreal Convention applies to accidents during international air travel and governs liability for injury, even in this case where the flight had not yet taken off.
Joanne Berry is a Travel Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
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