London: The dramatic emergency landing of a British Airways (BA) plane at Heathrow airport last week was the result of engine trouble, according to US investigators.
Engine cowls, or coverings, on both the US-made engines of the Oslo-bound Airbus A319 came off and fell on the runway as the plane took off from Heathrow on May 24, the US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) team concluded.
The pilots reported that they shut down one engine and there was a fuel leak which meant they had to return.
"The pilots subsequently reported that one engine was shut down and the other engine was on fire," the NTSB said.
The accident is now the subject of an investigation by the UK`s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), who are being assisted by the NTSB as the engines involved are American made.
Eye witnesses on the ground had reported seeing smoke billowing from the stricken plane as it flew over London before landing.
All 75 passengers and crew were evacuated via emergency chutes, resulting in minor injuries sustained by three people on board.
The incident closed both runways at one of the world`s busiest airports for a while and although they re-opened soon after, it caused a number of flight cancellations and delays.
The NTSB information on its website said: "An Airbus A319-131, registration number G-EUOE, during departure from London Heathrow International Airport, had the engine cowls from both International Aero Engines V2500 engines separate and fall on to the runway.
"The pilots reported that they shut down one engine, there was a fuel leak, and that they were returning. The airplane landed, was shut down, and the passengers were evacuated via the emergency slides."
BA cancelled almost 200 flights in the wake of the incident but the airline has insisted it is not liable for further compensation to anyone travelling to Europe under European Union consumer legislation.
BA said the closure of the airport, albeit as a result of a crisis involving one of its own aircraft, should be classed as an "extraordinary circumstance".