A flight from Pakistan was grounded on Sunday after the left-hand engine apparently caught on fire. A PIA Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200 was forced to abandon its climb at around 4,500 feet, when crew on board noticed fire warning signs on board the plane related to the engine.
The Aviation Herald reported these events, although thankfully, the incident turned out to be relatively minor. Despite the warnings on board the aircraft, Pakistan International Airlines confirmed that there had been no engine fire aboard the Boeing 777, and that the fire loop of the aircraft had malfunctioned.
PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar confirmed that the fire alarm had sounded due to a “technical issue in the avionic system”. 130 passengers had been aboard the aircraft at the time of its grounding.
The onboard crew worked through the related checklist and were able to shut the errant engine down successfully. Having discharged fire suppression, flight PK-759 was able to return to the airport for a safe landing on runway 36R just under 20 minutes after its initial departure. The plane was bound for Jeddah In Saudi Arabia before its unscheduled turnaround.
A replacement aircraft was soon in the air and reached its Saudi Arabian destination three hours after its scheduled window. Meanwhile, maintenance effort on the grounded aircraft had involved the opening of the cowls of both engines, as engineering experts investigated the reasons behind the return to Lahore.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that a flight involved with Lahore has been unfortunately impacted. Just weeks ago, an aircraft intended for Lahore, also affiliated with Pakistan International Airlines, suffered a birdstrike, which damaged the aircraft.
Again, a Boeing 777 was involved, although on this occasion it was possible for the pilot to continue with the flight, and to land the aircraft safely.
Political instability in Pakistan has impacted significantly on the airline industry, and British Airways has only recently resumed flying to the country. The UK’s flagship airline ceased all activity to Pakistan in 2009, following a bombing in the capital city of Islamabad, which killed over 50 people.
But BA has now approved the return of flights to Islamabad, with three Boeing 787 aircraft scheduled to fly to the Pakistani city on a weekly basis. Nonetheless, BA remains the only western airline currently serving Pakistan, and other major carriers remain cautious due to terrorist concerns.
Pakistan airspace was also recently restricted for five months following a flareup in its ongoing tensions with neighbor India. Airspace reopened in July, but clearly there are still many concerns surrounding the country’s stability.