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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Plane in Gatwick fire emergency
Gatwick Airport
The planes both eventually landed safely at Gatwick Airport
A Boeing 757 carrying 70 passengers had to make an emergency landing at Gatwick amid fears the plane was on fire.

The British Airways (BA) aircraft was one of two planes forced to make emergency landings at the West Sussex airport within minutes of each other on Sunday evening.

The plane was heading from Heathrow to Paris but was diverted to Gatwick after the pilot smelt burning in the cockpit, BA said.

Minutes earlier another Boeing 757 had to make an emergency landing after vibrations in one of its engines.

Pilots given oxygen

The BA plane heading for Paris' Charles De Gaulle Airport was safely landed at Gatwick shortly after 1900 BST with fire crews from the airport and West Sussex Fire Brigade waiting.

We do not want any question mark over the seriousness with which we take these incidents
British Airways spokesman

Paramedics were also at the scene in case any passengers needed attention but nobody was injured.

A spokesman for the airline said oxygen masks had dropped down for the pilots but not for passengers as there was only a burning smell in the cockpit.

He said: "There was a smell of burning in the cockpit.

"Masks were deployed for the flight crew only because there was no indication that there was a smell in the cabin.

"As a precaution, the fire services were on the runway.

"Passengers walked off the aircraft with their belongings.

Vibration in engine

"The plane was diverted and fire crews were in attendance.

"We encourage that because we do not want any question mark over the seriousness with which we take these incidents."

Engineers carried out an inspection of the plane and the passengers continued their journey on another scheduled flight from Gatwick to Paris.

Minutes earlier, another Boeing 757 had also been diverted to Gatwick.

The Thomas Cook flight, from Mahon in the Balearic Islands to Birmingham, was landed at Gatwick after the pilot detected a vibration in one of the engines.

A spokesman for the holiday firm said the plane could have flown to Birmingham safely but landed at Gatwick to make the flight more comfortable for passengers.

He said the engine had not shut down but had begun vibrating over the south coast so it was decided the plane should touch down at Gatwick, where the firm has an engineering centre.

The passengers again continued their journey on another plane.

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