Eight injured as Ryanair subsidiary’s plane blocks runway at Stansted

‘I can cross “emergency plane evacuation” off my bucket list,’ tweeted one passenger on the Laudamotion aircraft

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Saturday 02 March 2019 09:12 GMT
Stranded passenger films scene at Stansted Airport as runway is shut following 'huge bang'

Eight passengers were injured during the evacuation of a plane on the runway at Stansted airport in Essex.

The Airbus A320 belonging to Laudamotion was departing for Vienna at 8pm. It had begun accelerating along the runway for departure when a loud bang was heard.

The aircraft had not yet reached the critical “take-off decision speed” known as V1. The pilots safely aborted the departure and ordered an emergency evacuation as soon as the plane had stopped.

As is common when chutes are deployed for emergency evacuations, a number of the 169 passengers sustained minor injuries when leaving the aircraft.

Patrick Gorman tweeted: “I can cross ‘emergency plane evacuation’ off my bucket list. In case anyone was wondering, those slides are fast!!”

Pictures on social media indicated some passengers had taken their cabin baggage, which is against safety rules.

The problem is believed to have involved the left-hand CFM56 engine.

Toni Barta tweeted: “Evacuated form Laudamotion flight that was heading to Vienna. Big bang and flames on engine. Everyone is ok!”

The airline said the crew “decided to abort the take off due to engine issues and to disembark the passengers on the runway as a precautionary measure”.

It added: “Passengers were transferred to the terminal by bus and will be reaccommodated onto a replacement flight.”

The aircraft involved was towed to a stand for inspection, and later to a hangar for repair.

A replacement aircraft took off from Vienna on Saturday morning to pick up the stranded passengers.

The runway was blocked for two-and-a-hail hours, causing 13 incoming flights to be diverted: seven Ryanair, two easyJet, one Pegasus and one Air Moldova.

Ten of the diverted aircraft offloaded their passengers, with road transport provided back to Stansted. On three of the Ryanair flights, passengers remained on board and were later flown to Stansted.

All the affected aircraft returned to Stansted overnight.

Two easyJet flights, to Glasgow and Belfast, were cancelled. Other departures during Friday evening were heavily delayed, with passengers on the return legs arriving at the Essex airport in the early hours.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said: “The AAIB is deploying a team to Stansted Airport to investigate an incident involving an Airbus A320.”

Stansted Airport tweeted: “We are extremely sorry for the disruption caused by the incident, but our first priority is always the safety of passengers and staff.”

Laudamotion was created in 2018 when the Austrian racing driver, Niki Lauda, acquired an existing Austrian carrier, Amira Air. Aircraft from his insolvent Fly Niki airline were transferred across.

In January 2019 Ryanair completed its purchase of the airline. It is operated in parallel with the main airline, and uses Airbus rather than Boeing jets.

Level, a sister airline to British Airways, set up its own Vienna-based hub in response to the Ryanair moves.

Despite the disruption, operations on Saturday appear to be running normally at both Stansted and on the Lauda network

The Independent has approached Ryanair for further comment.

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