DUBLIN (Reuters) – A plane that regularly carries U.S. troops through Ireland’s Shannon Airport caught fire shortly before it was due to take off on Thursday, forcing a five-hour suspension of flights at Shannon and cancellation of some trips.
Shannon Airport temporarily suspended operations at 0537 GMT after the incident involving an Omni Air International Boeing 767-300 due to depart for the Middle East. All 145 passengers and 14 crew disembarked after emergency services were called.
Air traffic controllers noticed a fire and smoke coming from the aircraft as it taxied along the runway after having to abort its take-off for technical reasons, according to Niall Maloney, operations director at Shannon Airport.
“The problem with an aborted take-off is you can probably get things like hot brakes and when the aircraft went around again to come back on the apron, a flame was spotted,” Maloney told Irish national broadcaster RTE.
Omni Air International is a civilian airline that says it transports U.S. and foreign military troops and military family members around the world.
In a Twitter post, Omni Air said it was participating in an investigation of the incident after the aircraft “rejected take-off” and was safely evacuated. Initial reports indicated no serious injuries to passengers or crew, it added.
Ireland provides landing and refueling facilities to the U.S. military at Shannon, the country’s second busiest airport, particularly for transatlantic flights.
An average of around 300 U.S. troops passed through Shannon Airport each day in the first three months of the year, according to Ireland’s Transport Ministry.
The incident forced the cancellation of 10 flights including eight to and from Britain operated by IAG’s Aer Lingus, and an American Airlines aircraft that was due to arrive from Philadelphia before it returned to the U.S. city.
The airport reopened just before 1030 GMT.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)