Uncontained Engine Failure Eyed in BA 777 Fire

British Airways jetliner badly damaged on Vegas runway.

The 157 passengers and 13 crew members aboard a British Airways Boeing 777 that suffered what appears to be a catastrophic uncontained engine failure during the takeoff roll are lucky to be alive after a serious fire and billowing black smoke severely damaged the jetliner on the runway at Las Vegas International Airport yesterday.

Had the engine failure occurred moments later, when the airliner was already airborne, the outcome might have been much worse. Instead, the quick reaction of the crew allowed all aboard to evacuate the burning airplane on the emergency slides. The airline said 20 passengers were taken to local hospitals with injuries.

Photos of the aftermath show a shredded left GE90 engine, which appears to have sent shrapnel into the main fuselage of the 777-200, initiating the fire and smoke. Video of the incident makes it clear just how dangerous the situation was on board Flight 2276 as flames can be seen shooting from the fuselage at the wing roots near the engines. Fire crews were on the scene within minutes to extinguish the flames.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have arrived in Las Vegas to begin the task of determining what went wrong and why. Boeing, GE and the FAA are also participating in the investigation.

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