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Work nearly finished on jet that caught fire in aborted Las Vegas takeoff

Work is nearing completion on the British Airways Boeing 777 that caught fire after an aborted takeoff in Las Vegas in September, but airline officials aren’t saying when the plane will be flown from McCarran International Airport.

A construction tent that had been placed over the hull of the wide-bodied jet has been removed. An aluminum alloy skin patch appears to have been placed on the port side of the aircraft. The port-side jet engine that had been removed last year has yet to be replaced.

“Safety is always British Airways’ first priority,” a spokeswoman for the London-based airline said in an email. “A team from Boeing is carrying out the repair work, which will be certified to the same high standards as if the aircraft was brand new. The aircraft will resume flying once stringent checks have been completed.”

The spokeswoman said no timeline has been set for when the aircraft would resume flying.

While parked at McCarran, British Airways is paying $375 a day in fees and by the end of February, the bill would reach more than $53,000.

The jet, a twin-engine Boeing 777-200ER, was scheduled to fly as British Airways Flight 2276 from McCarran to London’s Gatwick International Airport on Sept. 8.

Midway through its takeoff run, before the plane lifted off the ground, the jet’s left engine experienced an uncontained failure that started a fire. Debris spewed out of the engine and onto the runway.

The pilot shut down the engine and aborted the takeoff and while McCarran’s emergency response crews sped to the burning plane, the plane’s 157 passengers and 13 crew members began evacuating on emergency slides.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report in October said the “left engine and pylon, left fuselage structure and inboard left wing … were substantially damaged by the fire.”

Officials reported 14 people suffered minor injuries, most of them as a result of a rough ride down the emergency chutes. The runway was closed for four hours.

Aviation experts initially said they expected the plane’s insurers to declare the aircraft a “hull loss,” meaning that it was too damaged for repair and that it would be disassembled for parts.

In December, the airline determined that the plane’s damage was suitable for repair so a plan was established to bring repair crews to McCarran to make the jet airworthy.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.


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