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BA 'engine doors unlatched'

Information from an American safety team that the British Airways plane in last week's Heathrow emergency drama landed with one engine shut down and the other on fire is incorrect, UK accident investigators said tonight.

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US and UK disagree on Heathrow emergency landing

The plane at Heathrow last week. Credit: ITV Meridian

Information from an American safety team that the British Airways plane in last week's Heathrow emergency drama landed with one engine shut down and the other on fire is incorrect, UK accident investigators have said.

Only one of the engines on the BA Airbus A319, which had to turn back to Heathrow with smoke billowing out, was affected, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

The information from the US had come on the website of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which is assisting the AAIB on the May 24 incident.

The NTSB information on its website said: "The pilots reported that they shut down one engine, there was a fuel leak, and that they were returning. The pilots subsequently reported that one engine was shut down and the other engine was on fire.

"The airplane landed, was shut down, and the passengers were evacuated via the emergency slides."

The NTSB added: "As the state of manufacture of the engines, the NTSB has designated a US accredited representative.... to assist the AAIB with their investigation."

A statement on behalf of the AAIB from the UK's Department for Transport tonight said: "The NTSB reported that the Airbus A319 returned to land with one engine shut down and the other on fire. This information is incorrect: only one of the engines was affected."

With passengers on board and witnesses on the ground seeing smoke coming from the stricken plane, the aircraft landed safely and the 75 passengers and crew were evacuated via emergency chutes. Three people were treated for minor injuries.

The drama closed both runways for a while and although both reopened there were flight cancellations and delays for those heading off for the bank holiday weekend.

Heathrow bosses and the pilot's association Balpa later praised the BA cockpit crew.

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