New information has surfaced regarding the El Al jet that was forced to return to London for an emergency landing shortly after taking off for Tel Aviv two weeks ago. A preliminary finding by the Transportation Ministry shows that the crew decided to continue with the flight even though it was aware of possible engine problems.
The Boeing 747-400 was carrying 411 passengers when it was forced to make an emergency landing at London's Heathrow Airport after trouble was identified in the plane's No. 4 engine.
Ministry investigators say the crew received alerts regarding the overheating engine during the previous flight from Tel Aviv to London; lights went off on the pilots' instrument panel, but the pilots decided to make the return flight anyway.
Then, during the return flight, about 20 minutes after leaving London, Captain Ilan Margalit says he heard an explosion on the right side of the aircraft. A few seconds later, engine No. 4 lost power. Margalit said there was no sign of fire in the engine. At that point, he radioed the control tower in London to say he was returning immediately.
Ground crew inspected the plane and reportedly found no exterior damage to the engine or to the plane.
Aviation experts say investigators will now have to learn why the plane was allowed to fly despite early warnings of engine trouble. One explanation may be that the crew decide the engine trouble wasn't serious enough to delay the flight and could be handled when the plane landed in Israel.
El Al said that the examination is complete, and that it "will not comment on the matter."
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