EL AL Boeing 777
El Al's controlling shareholders have been looking for a strategic investor to help it fly through the turbulence of the global economic meltdown. Photo by El Al
Text size

An El-Al flight heading from London to Tel Aviv was forced to perform an emergency landing in Heathrow airport on Thursday, after one of its engines caught fire minutes following takeoff.

The incident occurred about 20 minutes after flight 318 took off from the U.K. airport with 411 people aboard, around 1 A.M. Israeli time, when a loud thump was heard on the right side of the Boeing 747-400 airliner.

A strong smell was then reported in the cabin, with the jetliner losing thrust. The pilots, headed by captain Ilan Margalit then redirected the plane toward Heathrow, where emergency crews were deployed ahead of the unscheduled landing.

The crew began to undertake emergency procedures, during which a trail of fire was seen coming out of the engine, causing much alarm among the passengers.

Eventually, however, the pilots were able to safely land the plane with only three engines.

El Al said in response that it hoped that all of the passengers will be able to arrive in Israel in less than 24 hours.

Speaking to Haaretz, Margalit said that the incident was handled calmly, and that crew wasn't forced into taking extreme emergency measures. "I didn't have to dive or do a loop," he said, adding that he managed the episode "alertly, quietly, and calmly."

The emergency landing follows an incident in May,  during which an El Al airliner bound for London was forced to land in Ben-Gurion International Airport shortly after taking off, after discovering a technical fault in its flaps.

The malfunction was discovered 40 minutes into its flight, at which point the plane was instructed to burn fuel and return to Tel Aviv. It then circled the port for another 40 minutes, before safely landing. The flight's were passengers transferred to another plane.

Read this aritlce in Hebrew