British Airways 777 Catches Fire in Las Vegas After Engine Failure

British Airways 777 Catches Fire in Las Vegas After Engine Failure

Boeing Co. 777-200 operated by British Airways suffered a major engine failure as it was beginning its takeoff in Las Vegas, triggering a fire and requiring an emergency evacuation, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said.

The failure occurred in the left engine as the aircraft was accelerating on the runway for takeoff late on Tuesday, an FAA spokesman said.

The jet stopped safely before becoming airborne, allowing passengers and crew to exit the aircraft safely before the fire worsened, he said. The jet, operating as Flight 2276, was the airline’s scheduled service from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas to Gatwick Airport in London.

McCarran Airport said later that the fire had been extinguished.

British Airways, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said 157 passengers were aboard the 275-seat jet, along with three pilots and 10 cabin crew. “A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to the hospital,” a spokeswoman for the airline said. Those taken to the hospital have since been discharged, the carrier said.

The aircraft was operating with General Electric Co. engines, and the manufacturer said it was gathering initial information about what transpired in Las Vegas.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of three investigators to probe the incident. Its British counterpart, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, also said it was sending a team to assist the NTSB.

Though they are extremely rare, engine failures on takeoff are among the most trained-for incidents by airline pilots. Aircraft and their crews are dispatched with precise speeds and weight calculations to allow an aircraft to stop safely during the high acceleration of the takeoff process.

If an engine fails just as the nose of a Boeing 777 is lifting or the instant the plane leaves the ground, its automated fly-by-wire systems automatically adjust thrust in the remaining good engine and manipulate controls to assist the pilot and ensure the jet remains controllable.