Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said one of its Hong Kong-bound passenger jets returned to London's Heathrow Airport after developing engine trouble, but denied media reports saying that the engine had caught fire.
Flight CX250, which had 322 passengers and 21 crew members on board, returned to London on Friday after its pilots detected vibrations in one of the engines and shut it down, Cathay said in a statement.
It was the second time in the past 10 days that an engine problem had forced the Hong Kong-based airline to abort a flight. On Nov. 10, one of its Hong Kong-bound flights returned to Los Angeles after witnesses reported seeing flames on one of its engines.
It was not immediately clear how long flight CX250 had been airborne on Friday when it ran into trouble.
A Cathay spokeswoman did not immediately return a reporter's call early yesterday.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that one of the passengers, Robin Singh, said he saw flames coming from an engine after the Boeing 747 turned around somewhere near Moscow.
"Half of the wing at first appeared to be on fire," Singh was quoted as saying. "It was incredibly scary." British newspapers had earlier reported some passengers saw a "ball of flame" erupting from the engine.
But Cathay's statement rejected the reports about flames as "completely incorrect," saying "there was no fire associated with this engine shutdown."
"Some sparks and flame from the engine exhaust may have been seen by some passengers as the engine was closed down by the captain," the company said.
Singh said he saw sparks when the engine was turned off, but insisted that there were flames on a second engine on the same wing, according to the Post.
Cathay responded to his statement by saying, "at no time was the aircraft in any danger."
Cathay said it is investigating the incident.
Civil Aviation Department spokeswoman Stella Tse said Cathay has notified them of the incident and will submit a detailed report later.