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Report Says Plane May Have Had Engine Trouble Weeks Before Disaster With PM-Engines-Engen,

August 31, 1985

Report Says Plane May Have Had Engine Trouble Weeks Before Disaster With PM-Engines-Engen, Bjt

LONDON (AP) _ The British Airtours Boeing 737 destroyed by fire when an engine exploded last week may have been forced to make an emergency landing a month earlier when the same engine overheated, The Times reported today.

The London newspaper quoted a passenger who flew on the plane on July 25 as saying the pilot explained after landing that the left engine had been shut down. It was the left engine that exploded on Aug. 22, sparking a fire that killed 55 people.

The Times said the passenger was flying from London’s Gatwick airport to the Greek island of Corfu. Corfu also was the plane’s destination when the engine exploded as it took off from Manchester airport in northern England.

The newspaper reported: ″The passenger, who did not wish to be named, said that during the flight he and his wife heard a steward tell a stewardess: ‘This plane is sick.’

″He (the passenger) said: ’When we landed, the plane slewed sideways but the pilot kept it under control. When we stopped, the pilot said there had been a routine engine overheating problem and it had had to be shut down.‴

British Airways, which owns British Airtours, refused comment on The Times’ report and would not confirm or deny that the same plane was involved in both incidents.

The 737 involved in the disaster at Manchester airport had two JT8D-15 engines made by the American company Pratt & Whitney.

After the engine exploded, a fuel tank in the wing ruptured and escaping fuel ignited, engulfing the rear of the plane in a fireball.

Meanwhile, the British Airline Pilots Association called for an urgent review of emergency evacuation procedures for planes.

In a letter Friday to the British Civil Aviation Authority, it said it is worried about the increasing number of disasters in which passengers cannot get out of the plane quickly.

A pathologist’s report, introduced Thursday at an inquest on the 55 victims of the plane fire, said they all died as a result of inhaling dense black smoke.

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