Flybe passenger describes seeing smoke coming out of aircraft as it was evacuated at Leeds Bradford Airport

A passenger on board a Flybe plane which was evacuated at Leeds Bradford Airport on Friday night has spoken of the moment he saw smoke coming from the engine.

By Grace Newton
Saturday, 11th January 2020, 10:43 am
Updated Saturday, 11th January 2020, 1:24 pm
A Flybe aircraft landing at Leeds Bradford Airport
A Flybe aircraft landing at Leeds Bradford Airport

The lawyer and Leeds United fan from Roundhay and his wife were on flight BE742 to Belfast City, which was scheduled to leave LBA at around 8pm and had 52 passengers on board.

He has described the moment passengers were evacuated while the Flybe plane was about to taxi onto the runway after cabin crew spotted a smoke at the rear. A controlled evacuation of the aircraft took place from the front exits and it was then returned to its departure stand.

Flybe pulls out of Doncaster Sheffield Airport with the loss of 10 routes"The plane was ready for take-off, all checks had been done. The pilot had given us the weather in Belfast and the trip times. The stewardess had gone through the safety procedure and people were settled into their books, or had headphones on.

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"The engines started. We reversed slightly on the runway. Then the lights went out and we all sat in darkness for a what seemed like a long time. People just considered it an inconvenience and read books by flashlight, then the limited lights went on intermittently. We then had the notion we had been stationary for sometime.

"There were no announcements - a warning noise went off every so often.

"Then there was the impression that we were being surrounded by blue flashing lights - again no announcements but word passed through the aircraft that we were having to leave the plane, then that we needed to get off quickly, then that we had to leave our belongings.

"The hostesses said 'you have to leave now, go, go, go, just get out'.

"We scuttled off onto the tarmac and we were surrounded by blue flashing lights. We were then ushered to a bus, and at first we thought we would just be waiting until the fuss was over and then we would re-embark

"My wife asked a firefighter what was happening - he said a small engine at the back of the plane had smoke coming from it. We looked and then saw smoke coming from an engine. It would be wrong to say it was billowing out but there was enough to see clearly.

"Then when we were on the bus we were told the flight was cancelled and there would be no more planes until Saturday. Flybe staff were very good with offers of hotels or taxis to Manchester.

"The whole experience was low-key. I presume the lack of lights and announcements was precautionary so as not to use electricity for some reason .

"We didn’t know how serious it was. There was no panic, no hysteria, no screaming - just bemusement. We all might have been close to a major incident and it could have been precautionary; however there was 20 minutes of darkness and a significant amount of smoke coming from an engine

"We were supposed to be going to a 60th birthday party in Belfast but within two hours, we were back at home wondering what had happened."

The aircraft involved was a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 model which regularly flies the route, registration G-PRPH. It has been grounded at Leeds Bradford ahead of an engineering inspection.

A spokeswoman for Flybe said:-

"Flybe can confirm that on starting the number two engine following pushback from the apron and prior to take-off, ground staff reported seeing smoke at the rear of the aircraft. The crew immediately took all the necessary precautionary measures and all 52 passengers and four crew safely disembarked the aircraft and were bussed back to the terminal.

"The airport placed its emergency vehicles on standby.

"Passengers were accommodated in a hotel overnight and will complete their travel to Belfast City today on alternate flights.

"Flybe would like to apologise to its passengers for the inconvenience experienced however their safety and that of its crew is the number one priority at all times."