An American Airlines flight, from London to North Carolina, was grounded and passengers were evacuated in emergency protocols using the large sliders attached to emergency exits, after thick smoke started erupting from the plane.
— Frances Bune (@franibune) June 26, 2016
American Airlines Flight AA731 due to leave London Heathrow at 1:30 p.m. local time, and arrive at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina at 5:20 p.m. local time was abruptly cancelled and all its passengers were quickly evacuated using the emergency sliders after a passenger noticed plumes of smoke emerging from one of the engines.
American Airlines plane evacuated emergency slides activated Heathrow airport pic.twitter.com/DIqjfWOOug
— Matt Lewis (@maflewis1988) June 26, 2016
While investigations are still ongoing, some of the passengers onboard the American Airlines flight reported the cabin filling up with black smoke. The plane was about to hit the runway at 1:30 p.m., but it was abruptly halted and evacuated around 12:30 p.m. While the official statement from the airline or the Heathrow airport officials is expected, many passengers captured photos and videos. One of the video shows around 12 passengers rushing to escape using an emergency slide, reported the Metro.
— Flight Alerts ⚠ (@FlightAlerts777) June 26, 2016
Flight AA731 was in London Heathrow Airport and was to fly to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. According to Flight Aware, the airplane was an Airbus A321. While American Airlines hasn’t released the details of the passengers, the plane has a capacity to ferry about 200 passengers and flight crew.
— Ross Hiscock (@rosshiscock) June 26, 2016
Upon receiving the news about the deployment of emergency sliders on AA731, airport fire crews were rushed to Terminal 3, where the plane stood. Fortunately, all of the passengers as well as the entire crew are believed to have disembarked safely. An eyewitness to the incident said about 10 fire engines, seven ambulances and a number of police responded to the emergency, reported the Mirror.
“I turned up and there was just people coming off the slide and being escorted from the runway. There were about seven ambulances, ten fire engines and loads of airport police. From what I heard there was smoke coming off the back engine of the plane and it set off smoke detectors which caused the emergency slide to be deployed.”
Another passenger, Ross Hiscock, who had just landed from Helsinki had his plane parked next to American Airlines flight AA731. He said the smoke seemed to be coming from the rear of the plane,
“I saw a lot of smoke come out from the tail-end of the aircraft. I wondered if it was normal, whether it was just exhaust fumes. Then the door opened on the right side of the aircraft and crews deployed slides from the rear and the middle of the plane.”
“Next we wondered whether it was a drill, but then we saw they were real passengers. I saw at least one carrying a child. It all happened in a matter of seconds. Everyone seemed to be okay.”
A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport merely said the airplane experienced a “technical glitch,” which was quickly identified. She added that the problem was currently resolved. No injuries of any nature have been reported so far.
@AmericanAir please help! We are stuck in heathrow after smoke filled our cabin on flight 731. 2.5 hours and no guidance (or food!)
— Laura Panos (@Genetxy86) June 26, 2016
However, frightened passengers did complain about the lack of food. Based on the tweets sent out by American Airlines, it appeared all the stranded passengers would be offered food and accommodation. The airlines also confirmed all the passengers will be booked on the earliest available flight to their destination.
@StoppHannertime Your safety is always our top priority. We see that you've been rebooked for tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) June 26, 2016
According to RT, about three flights that were in the vicinity of the plane were extensively delayed due to the emergency situation. However, Heathrow Airport hasn’t shuttered Terminal 3 and flights continue to land and depart.
[Photo by Karen Bleier/Getty Images]