SIA plane catches fire, runway shut for over 4 hours
A SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA) plane, which caught fire soon after it made an emergency landing at Changi yesterday, forced the airport to close one of its two runways for more than four hours.
None of the passengers and crew on board Flight SQ368 was injured. But travellers booked on other early morning flights faced some delays as Runway 2 was off-limits from about 7am to 11.30am.
The SIA Boeing 777-300ER with 222 passengers and 19 crew members on board had left Changi Airport for Milan, Italy, at around 2am.
About two hours into the flight, the pilots received an engine-oil warning - possibly indicating an oil leak - and decided to turn back.
Passenger Lee Bee Yee, 43, said she detected a faint whiff of what smelled like petrol.
"We were informed by the pilot that there was a leak, and that the plane would have to return to Changi Airport as it did not have enough fuel for the journey," said Ms Lee, who runs an e-commerce firm.
Changi Airport's emergency service team was already on standby when the plane landed at about 6.50am. Shortly after, its right wing caught fire.
"The blaze was quite fierce and we waited for around two to three minutes before the fire engines arrived," Ms Lee said.
"Surprisingly, all the passengers were quite calm. The SQ crew was very professional in calming everyone down."
It took less than 10 minutes to put out the blaze.
Passengers then disembarked using mobile stairs and were taken by bus to the terminal building.
The flight eventually took off at about 11am with a new plane and a fresh crew.
In a notice handed out to all passengers, SIA apologised for the incident and made arrangements for light refreshments while they waited for their flight.
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was relieved that all who were on board disembarked safely.
He thanked SIA and Changi Airport for responding swiftly to the incident, adding that the Air Accident Investigation Bureau is investigating the cause and will get to the bottom of the matter.
Additional reporting by Lee Min Kok