Passengers let off 'unsafe jet':
British tourists are returning home after about 400 people refused to get back on an aircraft they said had fuel pouring out of one of the wings.
Passengers demanded to be let off the Phuket Air plane at Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates.
. . .
Dr Peter Hill, who was on board with his family, said "fuel was spewing out of the right hand wing".
Dr Hill, from the Isle of Wight, told the BBC the plane which had stopped for refuelling looked old.
He said: "There must have been 50 or 80 people on the right hand side of the plane screaming, absolutely panicked.
"We were just worried that the whole thing was going to ignite. It was just unbelievable."
An engineer was called to sit beside a passenger and see the fuel for himself, he said.
When the engineer's face "went white", he said, the plane was stopped.
This kind of reminds me of one of the first times I flew on a commercial airliner. It was an extremely hot and humid day, and as we taxied out to the runway, smoke (I thought) began to pour out of all the overhead vents. I looked back at where the cabin crew had strapped themselves in, but none of them appeared to care. Moreover, no other passengers even noticed what I was seeing.
I figured "Hell, somebody has to tell them," so I hit the call button. A few seconds later, one of the attendants appeared and asked what was wrong. I pointed to the vent, and, in as calm a voice as I could muster (but which was still undoubtedly three octaves higher than usual), asked "Is that normal?"
To her credit, she didn't roll her eyes as she replied "On a day like this, it's not unusual for condensation to fog up the vent air." To her further credit, I didn't her her mutter "Fucking noob" as she worked her way back to her jump seat. To her further further credit, she didn't contemplate legal action, like Phuket Air appears to be doing:
In a statement issued on Monday, Phuket Air said ground staff overfilled a fuel tank and some fuel was spilled.
Steps were "immediately taken" to clear up the spillage, it said and the flight had "no technical or mechanical problems".
It said the flight was cleared for take off and taxiing for departure when "a small number of passengers left their seats and moved towards the front of the aircraft causing affray".
The pilot was forced to abort the take off, it said. The airline is considering legal action against the passengers involved [emphasis added].
Update: It happened again:
A PLANE involved in two fuel-leak scares was at the centre of another drama yesterday.
The Phuket Air flight had to return to London several hours into a journey to Bangkok, because of a mechanical problem.
On Sunday many of the 200 Britons aboard the same Boeing 747 were terrified as fuel was seen flooding across a wing.
Two take-off attempts were aborted in the United Arab Emirates and some people left stranded.
Eventually the plane flew to Gatwick and then had hydraulics trouble.
Yesterday, with the fault apparently fixed, it set out at 8.30am.
The "same problem" flared up again, said Phuket Air, and the 747 was back at Gatwick by 11.37.