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Suspected fire leads to new aircraft inquiry

A NEW passenger aircraft, which has had fears expressed about its safety, is under investigation again after 51 people were evacuated at Sumburgh airport in Shetland yesterday after a suspected fire in one of the aircraft's engines.

It is the eighth time in two years that the Department of Transport's Air Accidents Investigation Branch has had an inquiry into safety fears over a British Aerospace Advanced Turbo Prop (ATP) plane.

Yesterday, smoke was seen coming out of the starboard engine when the British Airways 5780 flight from Aberdeen landed at Sumburgh. One woman suffered slight injuries when the 47 passengers and four crew had to escape down a safety chute. British Airways and Loganair operate 18 ATPs in Scotland and England.

The Civil Aviation Authority banned all ground manoeuvring in winds over 52 knots and altered flight manuals after a Department of Transport inquiry last April into an accident at Sumburgh airport in December 1991.

A CAA spokesman said yesterday: 'We are aware of problems the ATPs are having and we have made recommendations according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport.'

David Deas, of the AAIB, said all accidents involving the ATPs were being investigated and a report would be published soon.