British Airways Heathrow flight grounded by 'engine surge'

A plane was forced to turn back shortly after taking off at Heathrow Airport after an "engine surge" in the air.

A witness said flames were "spitting out of the engine" as the aircraft took off at about 21:00 GMT on Thursday.

British Airways said flight BA0364 to Lyon, France, touched down safely, adding that the aircraft would be "thoroughly checked over by engineers".

A spokesman said: "The safety of our customers, crew and aircraft is of the utmost importance."

The southern runway was closed for about 16 minutes, an airport spokeswoman said.

Tom Puttick, who works near Heathrow, said: "I was in the petrol station opposite the airport, which is when I heard the bang, so I turned around and the airplane had flames spitting out of the engine with a spluttering noise as it was still taking off.

'Engine shut down'

"I then watched it continue to climb and the engine was still emitting flames intermittently.

"Lots of blue lights then emerged on the airport while the plane, I guess, turned around to make an emergency landing but I couldn't see it after the aircraft turned out of sight."

In a statement, British Airways said: "A flight experienced what's known as an 'engine surge' as it took off from Heathrow, but it has now returned and touched down safely.

"We train our pilots to the very highest standards including how to respond to these type of events, and the engine was immediately shut down."

The airline said passengers on the flight would be given hotel accommodation overnight and rebooked to fly on Friday.

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