Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. passengers used evacuation chutes to escape their plane after the jetliner made an emergency landing today at London’s Gatwick airport because of a technical problem.
The twin-engine Airbus (EAD) SAS A330-300 aircraft took off for Orlando, Florida, on flight VS27 before turning back to the U.K., Virgin Atlantic said. The escape chutes were deployed when the jet came to a rest on the runway.
“The captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft,” the U.K. airline said in a statement. Fifteen people were hospitalized after the landing, including 14 sent to major trauma centers suffering from suspected fractures, South East Coast Ambulance Service said in an e-mailed statement.
Departures from Gatwick, the world’s busiest single-runway airport, were suspended before resuming from a standby strip parallel to the main one, which reopened after about three hours. Gatwick, 25 miles south of London, is a base for carriers including EasyJet Plc (EZJ) and British Airways. Traffic through the airport rose 6.9 percent to 33.8 million passengers in the year to March 31.
Gatwick briefly suspended services April 13 after a hot air balloon strayed into its airspace.
Virgin Atlantic is working closely with the authorities to establish the cause of today’s incident, the airline said. Toulouse, France-based Airbus is aware of the incident and “ready to offer support,” spokesman Justin Dubon said.
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