British passengers sue over plane fire on Las Vegas runway


Passengers who have filed a lawsuit after having to run from a British Airways flight that caught fire as it prepared to take off in America are claiming that the plane was "defective and unreasonably dangerous".

A blaze broke out on the Boeing 777-200 as it was about to depart an airport in Las Vegas for a 10-hour flight to London Gatwick on September 8.

All 157 passengers and 13 crew members, who were hailed as heroes for their actions in response to the emergency, survived.

A lawsuit has now been filed against GE Aviation and Boeing on behalf of 65 passengers, the majority of whom are British, who claim they suffered physical and emotional damage in the incident.

James Healy-Pratt of London-based Stewarts Law said the passengers do not blame the pilots or crew, who they praised for their bravery.

Mr Pratt, who said he expects more passengers to join the lawsuit, said: "The pilots and cabin crew performed heroically in guiding the aircraft to an emergency stop."

BA senior captain Chris Henkey, 63, from Reading, Berkshire, was on his penultimate flight when he aborted take-off, declared the emergency and ordered the evacuation.

Twenty-seven people, including all the crew, were treated for minor injuries which were mostly caused by escaping down emergency slides.

Parts of the General Electric GE90-85B engine flew out onto the runway during the fire.

A US National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the engine of BA flight 2276 had "multiple breaches" in its casing.

Among the claims in the lawsuit are that the plane was defective, the firms knew the parts were prone to "fracture and failure", and that GE Aviation had lobbied against stricter inspections of the engines before the fire.

The lawsuit mentions a Federal Aviation Administration directive from 2011 warning of cracks in weld joints of compressor fan spools in similar engines.

GE Aviation has said the engine affected had different parts, and claimed it is "among the most reliable jet engines in commercial aviation history".

Neither Boeing nor GE Aviation has commented on the lawsuit.