BA flight 2276 plane fire pilot Chris Henkey: 'It's safe to say I'm finished flying'

Mr Henkey was on his penultimate flight before retiring when the aircraft burst into flames

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The Independent Online

A veteran pilot who was hailed a “hero” for remaining calm when a London-bound plane he was in control of burst into flames on a US runway has said he is “finished flying”. 

Some 157 passengers, 10 crew members and three pilots fled the aircraft via emergency slides, after the Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying from Las Vegas to Gatwick was engulfed in flames.

Following the escape, 27 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries - including all of the crew members -and were released on the same day.

The flight was the penultimate journey for its highly experienced captain Chris Henkey, 63, from Reading, Berkshire, who was praised for for his quick-thinking and textbook response.

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The British Airways plane burst into flames at McCarran airport, Las Vegas

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His fiancee, Lenka Nevolna, 40, told reporters: "He's a hero. He's a great man with a warm heart, and generosity, and I'm very proud of him."

However, Mr Henkey has stressed that the flight will be his last, following a 42-year career.

"It's safe to say I'm finished flying," Mr Henkey told NBC News.

Asked whether he was always so calm, Ms Nevolna said: "Yes, most of the time, and he's loved by everyone, we are very proud of him."

His ex-wife Marnie Henkey, 65, with whom he has a daughter, said she was relieved that  everyone on board escaped safely.

"He is safe and happy,“ she told The Guardian. "I've had some messages from him. He did a bloody good job."

The aircraft was travelling between 40 and 100mph on the runway when the captain realised it was on fire and slammed down the breaks.

Mr Henkey is heard speaking calmly in audio footage of the dialogue with traffic controller.

"Mayday, mayday, Speedbird 2276 request fire services," he said.

The woman in the control tower immediately replied: "Heavy fire services on the way."

Forty seconds later Mr Henkey added: "We are evacuating on the runway. We have a fire. I repeat, we are evacuating."

BA issued a statement which said the plane "experienced a technical issue".

However, investigations to pinpoint the exact cause are ongoing. 

One line of inquiry is like to surround reports that the plane’s fire suppression equipment was deployed but failed to extinguish the blaze, a source close to the investigation told CNN.

The state of the plane’s equipment and whether the fire spread due to a ruptured fuel line will also be looked into.

Additional reporting by PA

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