CORRECTION AND RETRACTION: Kindly note that the correct date of this incident was August 26, 2008, and was mistakenly reported as occurring in 2011. We apologize to our readers and to Thomson Airways who were kind enough to call this error to our attention, and also point out that none of their current aircraft are fitted with microwave ovens which are cited in this article as fire hazards.
A Thomson Airways Boeing 737-800 operating as Flight BY-2508 from Pula Airport (PUY) in western Croatia to Gatwick Airport (LGW) outside London, encountered a galley microwave fire after reaching 3,000 feet altitude, shortly after takeoff on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 2:10 p.m. Central European Time.
The oven fire filled the cabin with massive amounts of black smoke, causing some passengers to panic and forcing an emergency return landing just 8 minutes later at 2:18 p.m. CET, as reported by the Daily Mail, Cabin Crew, Partner of a Pilot, and other information sources in dispatches published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.
The plane was carrying 190 mostly British passengers, who had been spending their summer holiday on the Istria peninsula on the Adriatic Sea, known for its mild climate, calm waters, wine making, and tourism.
There were also 6 crew members aboard the narrow-body aircraft, which was met by fire and emergency service crews and escorted to a secure area where the passengers were evacuated, and the plane grounded as safety technicians tried to discover the cause of the incident.
Problems in the electrical system were found to be the result of an “installation error” in the aircraft’s galley microwave.
There is also an attached slide show and video clip which accompany this report.
Passengers were stranded at the airport for 8 hours until the carrier, which is the world’s largest charter airline, was able to provide another aircraft from its home base at London Luton Airport (LTN).
Five of the travelers were so frightened by the incident that they decided to return to Britain by train via Venice, at a much slower, and less stressful pace.
Pula Airport has a single 9,678 foot asphalt runway, and is served by 12 different airlines, 8 of which operate only on a seasonal basis, including Thomson Airways (BY) and Ryanair (FR). Several smaller airlines from Norway, Sweden, Germany, and the Ukraine also provide service during the tourist season.
Thomson Airways was founded in 1962 as Britannia Airways but on November 1, 2008 re-branded following the merger of Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways (DP). It carried over 10.9 million passengers in 2010, making it the third largest UK airline by total passengers, after EasyJet (U2) and British Airways (BA).
It currently operates a fleet of 60 mostly Boeing aircraft with 24 more planes on order, flying to 96 destinations from 16 bases in the UK and Ireland, with scheduled and charter flights to Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
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