BA jumbo jet continued flight after engine fire

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Air traffic controllers were "amazed" when a British Airways jumbo jet decided to carry on with a transatlantic flight after an engine caught fire on take-off, it was revealed today.

An air traffic controller, who had seen flames coming from an engine on the Boeing 747 at Los Angeles, told a colleague on hearing the plane was continuing its flight: "If you would have saw what we saw out the window, you'd be amazed at that."

The plane, with 351 passengers on board, was due to land in London but the crew, which shut down the on-fire engine, decided to declare an emergency because of possible low fuel supplies and landed safely in Manchester.

The controller's comments were revealed in a transcript between the plane and the Los Angeles control tower obtained by the Wall Street Journal under US freedom of information laws.

A report earlier this year into the February 2005 incident by the UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said no evidence had been found to show that the flight continuation posed a significant increase in risk, and that the aircraft landed with more than the required minimum fuel reserves.

But the report added: "However, there were indications of deficiencies in the training regarding fuel management provided to the flight crew."

A BA spokeswoman said today: "We always maintained that the aircraft operated in strict accordance with the (UK) Civil Aviation Authority regulations and this was consistent with the what the AAIB report into the matter said."

She went on: "The AAIB found that the action by the crew was in accordance with BA's flight continuation policies and that the aircraft had sufficient fuel and performance to continue the flight safely.

"The US Department of Transportation is taking no action against BA regarding this incident."