London: A Thomas Cook flight from Manchester, UK, to Corfu, Greece, was dramatically aborted on Wednesday, after the pilot smelt volcanic ash and reported an engine fault.
The Boeing 757 had just left Manchester with only crew on board to rescue stranded holidaymakers when the drama began shortly after 1 am.
“We’ve had the smell of ash in the aircraft and twice one of our engine bleed-airs has failed. We’re pretty sure it’s volcanic ash,” The Sun quoted the unnamed captain, as saying during the tense cockpit moments.
“In the climb, we could smell the ash. The smell stayed on for a while. Once we`d levelled at 39 (39,000ft) we then lost one engine bleed, so we’ve taken all the required actions for volcanic ash encounter,” the captain added.
After a request from the captain to be allowed to land quickly without being put in a holding pattern, the Boeing returned safely to Manchester.
Thomas Cook said the flight was aborted as a precautionary measure due to a “minor technical fault with its air conditioning”.
A spokeswoman insisted that it was not caused by ash and the plane was in no danger.
The flight was among the first to leave after the UK ban on air traffic was lifted, and experts fear that ash may have clogged up the engine bleed valve.