1time denies 'plane fire'

2009-01-13 16:31

Port Elizabeth - 1time airlines on Tuesday slammed reports that the engine of one of its aircraft caught fire during an emergency landing, pointing out that no passenger can see the engine from inside a plane.

The Herald newspaper reported that passengers "watched in horror as a plane engine caught alight" during 1Time flight 1T502, from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg on Monday at 13:40.

"It's absolutely 100% incorrect, there was no fire," said Glenn Orsmond, CEO of 1time Holdings.

"The actual engines of the aircraft are positioned behind the passengers, so it's impossible for a passenger to have seen flames," he told News24.

Aviation industry expert Linden Burns confirmed this. "Nobody can see the back of those engines," he said. "It sounds a bit odd in terms of seeing flames."

However both Orsmond and Burns said seeing smoke was possible as the MD82 aircraft experienced right-hand engine problems a few minutes into the flight, forcing it to turn back and land.

Passengers told the Herald they heard loud bangs, which Orsmond attributes to the engine being turned off as the aircraft prepared to land.

While a second aircraft was dispatched to fetch the passengers, OR Tambo airport was experiencing delays because of various problems, Orsmond said.

"All airlines had delays yesterday (Monday)," he said.

He said passengers received apologies, free tickets and meal vouchers while they waited until 19:15 to leave.