A CO. Down man who was on board the British Airways plane that caught fire on the runway in Las Vegas is seeking answers almost two weeks after the terrifying ordeal.
Steve Bingham, 35, from Hillsborough in the North of Ireland, says he was left injured and traumatised after flames engulfed flight BA2276 at McCarran International Airport that was destined for London’s Gatwick Airport on September 8.
He is now taking legal action – along with several other passengers – to find out the cause of the fire, as he continues to battle the effects of smoke inhalation and flashbacks.
Describing the incident, Mr Bingham said: “Many people were screaming, with some then shouting about fire.
"Then I saw thick black smoke from the windows on both sides of the aircraft, but the cabin crew were still telling us to stay seated at this point! Seconds later, the pilot ordered the evacuation.
“Once out of the plane, the staff were screaming at us to run away. I started to run and looked back towards the plane to see that it was on fire with flames reaching twice the height of the aircraft.
"All I could think was that if it reaches the fuel tanks and explodes we will be killed.”
To give you an idea of what the fire was like (that's my mate Jez, who just had a knee reconstruction, on the run). pic.twitter.com/snpHGFyxIC
— Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) September 8, 2015
Mr Bingham says he suffered an injury to his arm during evacuation and is now on medication to help him overcome the lasting psychological trauma.
“I’m still suffering from the incident and have regular flashbacks. You simply never expect something like this to happen.
"I am continuing to suffer from the effects of what happened but I know we are all incredibly lucky not to have been more seriously injured.”
The specialist Aviation team at law firm Irwin Mitchell are assisting Mr Bingham, and have also received several requests for help by other injured passengers.
It is understood that the fire was caused after the left engine of the Boeing aircraft suffered a catastrophic failure as the plane prepared for take-off.
This required the pilot to abort take-off and order the evacuation of all 170 passengers and crew on board.
Fire on #BritishAirways in #lasvegas everyone looks like off safe pic.twitter.com/JmHLXY0Tny
— Paul Berberian (@pberberian) September 8, 2015
Clive Garner, head of Aviation Law at Irwin Mitchell representing the passengers, said: “We have been asked to represent a number of injured passengers to represent them and investigate what caused the fire in one of the engines of the Boeing 777 aircraft in Las Vegas on September 8.”
He added: “The psychological impact of a life threatening event like this should not be underestimated. Counselling and other relevant support may also be required to help those affected overcome what they have been through. ”
An interim report issued by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed ‘multiple breaches’ in the casing of the engine, with parts of it being found on the runway.
A spokeswoman for British Airways confirmed to the The Irish Post that: "British Airways are working closely with NTSB to give the investigation our fullest support and to ensure that the safety of our customers is always our top priority."
Other investigations, including the examination of flight data and cockpit voice recording equipment, are on going.