Shocked passengers today told how they were forced to flee down emergency chutes at Blackpool Airport when smoke began pouring from their stricken plane.
Fire crews raced to the runway when air traffic control staff spotted smoke coming from Jet2 flight LS740 from Alicante at 1.30pm yesterday.
The 139 passengers, including crying children, were kept on board for several minutes after the flight landed abruptly before they were told to make an emergency exit down the chutes.
Witnesses said some passengers suffered cuts and bruises as they slid off the end of the ramps on to the hard runway.
Flight operator Jet2 has now launched an investigation into the cause of the problem which is believed to have been caused by a suspected hydraulic fluid leak.
Andrew Dance, 52, was returning from holiday when the plane had to make a sudden landing.
Mr Dance, from Barrow, in Cumbria, said: “It was a bit of a bumpy landing. And then we saw smoke coming off the tyre.
“When they said they were evacuating the plane, that’s when the panic started.
“It was quite scary – the chutes came down but one of them wouldn’t open.
“Where I was there was nobody catching people at the bottom so people were just pouring off.
“Quite a few had scratches on their arms and legs. There were a couple of banged heads but we were lucky – it could have been a lot worse.
“It took me 24 years to get on a plane after a bad flight. This was only my second time in 24 years – it might be another 24 before I fly again.”
It was several hours before passengers were able to get their bags off the plane and go home, leaving concerned friends and relatives waiting in the arrival lounge.
Cliff Fazackerley, of Preston, was on his way back to the UK after a family holiday.
He said: “Everybody was quite calm at first. They just said the tower could see some smoke coming from the wheels and they made us wait on the runway.
“The fire brigade arrived and they seemed to be hesitant – then the next thing they said crew to their stations.
“Then the pilot said evacuate. There was a bit of panic then – a few kids were crying.
“But it won’t put us off flying.”
Roasaleen Johnson, of Princeway, South Shore, said: “The plane went down quite sharply – it was quite a fast landing.
“It was a bit of excitement nobody was expecting towards the end of a lovely week in Alicante.
“I think they kept us on the plane a bit long – they could have got us off sooner – but the ground staff dealt with us well.
“They gave us drinks and made sure we were OK. The fire service were very good too.”
Sue Kendrick, corporate affairs manager at Blackpool Airport, said: “As far as I am aware, it was a hydraulic fluid leak in the under carriage and when the aircraft landed it smoked.
“It carried on smoking so to be on the safe side we evacuated. There were a couple of minor injuries.
“Our emergency orders all kicked in and worked absolutely perfectly. It’s good to see in an emergency situation they all worked well.
“I spoke to some passengers afterwards and they seemed fine.”
A Jet2 spokesman said: “The captain was advised to evacuate flight LS740 from Alicante as a precautionary measure after Blackpool Airport air traffic control spotted smoke coming from the brakes on landing.
“All passengers evacuated safely and are being cared for by our team at the airport. A full investigation is now underway.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue confirmed crews were sent to assist emergency response staff based at the Airport.
The runway was closed until around 4.30pm, causing significant delays to flights to Dublin and Palma.
One passenger, who was waiting to board a flight to Palma, said: “Everybody was just a bit confused. We weren’t given much information.”