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‘It could’ve been fatal’: Family describe moment plane’s engine caught fire and cut out mid-air

PUBLISHED: 10:12 21 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 21 April 2018

The Zouvani family were headed for Heathrow after a fortnight-long holiday in Mexico (Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

The Zouvani family were headed for Heathrow after a fortnight-long holiday in Mexico (Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Norfolk couple have spoken of the moment they realised their plane was on fire as they travelled with their two young children, thousands of feet in the air.

The Zouvani family’s Delta flight was forced to turn around over Atlanta, after a blaze broke out in the craft’s right wing engine at 2,130 metres.

The family from Cantley were catching their connecting flight home from Atlanta to Heathrow, after a fortnight-long holiday in Mexico.

They were unaware that just the day before, a woman had died after another US engine fire resulted in an explosion, almost sucking the victim from the plane’s window.

Michael Zouvani, 44, said: “We were pretty oblivious to it. We were sat towards the back of the plane behind the wing, but on the right side. The guys next to us had a better view, and were taking pictures of smoke coming out of it. We’d been in the air about half an hour when we realised we weren’t moving anywhere.”

The route of the plane having taken off from Hartsfield Jackson International (Atlanta) and then returning half an hour later. Picture: Flight AwareThe route of the plane having taken off from Hartsfield Jackson International (Atlanta) and then returning half an hour later. Picture: Flight Aware

Wife Nicky, 41, added: “The crew were very calm, but they were all talking amongst themselves and looking out of the window over the wing. They told us parts of what was happening, but not all of it.

“A friend of mine who’s an air hostess said on Facebook that we’re lucky, as it could’ve been fatal. At the time you can’t think about what might happen, you just deal with it.”

The Zouvani family were four of 274 passengers and 14 crew members.

The pair were travelling with their two children Zach, nine, and Eloise, 
five.

Mrs Zouvani, who works as a mortgage advisor in Great Yarmouth, continued: “It was quite a bumpy flight, apparently the engine cut out at one point. The kids were just watching in-flight entertainment. Zach said he wasn’t scared but Eloise wanted to get back to London.

“When we were about to touch back down in Atlanta the pilot told us there would be emergency services waiting to put the fire out, and then we could take off again. We thought ‘really?’ but then they got us on another flight.”

Mr Zouvani, who is about to begin working with Jarrolds, said: “It had been a holiday with a few incidents so it just seemed part and parcel really. We’re very glad to be back at home and on the ground.”

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