Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Inquiry into fire on Virgin plane

Virgin Atlantic planes
The fire broke out on a Virgin Atlantic plane en route to Chicago

Irish air accident investigators have said they uncovered potentially dangerous problems in some Virgin Atlantic passenger jets.

They were looking into why a fire broke out on a plane which made an emergency landing at Shannon airport last month.

In a preliminary report, the investigators found there were problems with wiring on the plane.

Virgin Atlantic said:"A few minor issues were found and were immediately rectified".

A total of 156 passengers and crew were on board the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 en route from Heathrow to Chicago when a small fire broke out in a bin in the bar area of first class.

Crew members used fire extinguishers but they could not put the blaze out.

The captain declared an emergency and diverted to Shannon where the plane landed safely 30 minutes later.

It was not until the aircraft fully depowered that the fire was finally extinguished.

On Friday, air accident investigators (AAIU) published their preliminary findings into the incident.

They discovered that there were problems with electrical wiring in the bar unit of the plane which had been specifically adapted for the airline.

After the fire, Virgin Atlantic inspected a number of its Airbus A340-300 and A340-600 and discovered "that a number of these aircraft also had problems relating to missing covers, rail screws and cable routing".

The report said investigators are continuing to look at other issues including why the crew found the fire so difficult to put out.

Virgin Atlantic said it immediately launched an investigation and a thorough inspection of its aircraft in full co-operation with the AAIU after the incident.

"The installation of the bar was carried out in accordance with all relevant regulations," a spokesman for the company said.

"Virgin Atlantic continues to assist the AAIU in their investigation and looks forward to the full report with interest."

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