A passenger plane crashed on the runway at London City Airport last night after it lost its front wheels in a “hard landing”. The undercarriage of British Airways flight 8456 failed, breaking the nose wheel on landing after travelling from Amsterdam.
The 67 passengers and five crew on board the Avro RJ100 plane were all evacuated safely but one person was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
One of the passengers on the plane, Justin Fletcher, told the BBC: “There was obviously quite a loud bang as the plane scratched in, the stewards and stewardesses were quick to evacuate everyone off, there was a few scrapes and cuts due to hitting the asphalt, all in all everyone seems to be doing quite well now.”
Olivia Fochs, 40, was waiting to fly to Switzerland for a skiing holiday with partner Nigel Robson, 60, and their children Lucas, 11, and Carlotta, 8, when the accident happened. Miss Fochs said: “We were looking out of the departure lounge windows until we were moved back, I could see the pilot waving from the window, reassuring everyone he was OK I guess.”
Mr Robson added: “It was pretty chaotic.” Six ambulances were sent as a precaution as well as 10 fire engines and a number of police cars. Staff at the airport said the said the plane’s front wheel had come “clean off its hinges”.
A spokesman for British Airways said: “The nose wheel of a British Airways aircraft suffered a failure on landing at London City Airport. “As a precaution the emergency slides were deployed and the passengers were evacuated down the slides onto the runway. “Our priority at the moment is to ensure that all the passengers involved in the incident are well cared for by our ground staff.”
Eye witness Alistair Grant told Sky News: Fire crews were called to the airport just after 7.40pm when the four-engine aircraft had already been evacuated.
A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 7.45pm to reports of an incident at London City Airport.
We sent six ambulance crews, two single responders in cars, two duty officers and we treated four patients for minor injuries. “ One passenger was taken to the nearby Newham General Hospital for treatment.
A spokesman said: “The patient was treated for some bumps and scratches and general shock. However, it was not serious and they only stayed a short while before being discharged.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers waiting to catch other flights from City Airport were evacuated by security staff.
As they made their way out of the airport many were questioned by police who were looking for witnesses to the incident.
Chris Lloyd, who had been waiting to catch a flight to Basel, Switzerland, said last night : “Hundreds of people were stuck in the departure lounge for some time after the accident. We did see emergency lights flashing down on the tarmac, but security guards ushered us away from the windows and we were prevented from seeing what was happening on the runway.
“The police seem to be stopping everyone on their way out to ask if they saw anything. They have described it as a major incident.”
Rupa Haria, spokesman for London City Airport, added: “All the passengers have been checked over by the Ambulance Service staff inside the survivor reception centre in City Aviation House opposite the main terminal.
“They are being kept comfortable and we have provided them with items of food and clothing.
“The passengers who were waiting in the departure lounge were moved away from the windows because we didn’t know the nature of the incident.”
Incoming flights were diverted, eight to Stansted Airport, one to Heathrow, one to Luton and one to Southend airport in Essex.
An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have begun an investigation.
A spokesman for London City Airport said last night that it was too early to tell if there will be disruption to flights on Saturday.