LAS VEGAS (AP) — An ongoing investigation into a fire on a British Airways jet that was damaged during an aborted takeoff in Las Vegas points to a failure in an engine compressor, an expert who reviewed a preliminary federal report on the mishap said Tuesday.
Several documents were released by the National Transportation Safety Board detailing its investigation of the fire that forced the evacuation of the Boeing 777, but it did not list a cause of the 2015 incident at McCarran International Airport. A final report including a cause is expected in the coming months.
The files include summaries of interviews with flight crew members, data from the flight recorder, copies of checklists that British Airways personnel must follow during emergencies, and a video showing the aircraft on fire on the runway, among several others.
"It looks like a compressor part came unglued in the engine and caused some serious damage, and then, some flammable fluids ignited in process," Don Knutson, an aircraft accident investigator in Wichita, Kansas, told The Associated Press. He is not involved in the investigation.
Investigators must determine whether the problem was then result of a manufacturing or maintenance issue, he added.
The NTSB declined comment on the documents.
The aircraft was moments from takeoff on Sept. 8, 2015, when its left engine burst into flames sending smoke billowing and passengers fleeing. There were no fatalities or serious injuries among the 157 passengers and 13 crew members.
The aircraft was built in 1998 and registered to British Airways a year later. In its 14 years of service, it flew nearly 77,000 hours, according to the British Civil Aviation Authority.
One of the documents released Tuesday details the examination of a spool assembly of the high-pressure engine compressor. The spool helps give the plane power, making it a key part of the engine. The NTSB reported it had a detached and fractured disk.
The document also says several fragments of the spool assembly were recovered on the runway and analyzed.
Knutson said the metallurgical examination allows officials to gauge the nature of fatigue and other factors that can help them estimate when the crack began to spread.
"Metal has a fatigue life based on operation conditions on the engine," Knutson said. "There was a component or components that they found fatigue cracking, and they went right to the source of the catastrophic damage within the compressor section."
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