Israeli Air Force Colonel Lands 411 Passenger Jet After Engine Blows
An Israeli Air Force colonel (reserve) turned his passenger jet around on Wednesday night, with 411 people on board, after an engine caught fire.
Ilan Margalit was captaining an El-Al flight from London to Tel Aviv when a flight attendant informed him at 26,000 feet that the fourth engine was losing power. Although he says he could have gotten the plane to Israel safely, Margalit decided it was better to turn around and make an emergency landing at London’s Heathrow Airport.
“Although this happens to a pilot once in a lifetime, the plane was not in danger. I could have continued to fly to Tel Aviv on three engines, but we’re educated at El Al not to take any risk. Safety is paramount. I declared an emergency, not because the plane was in danger, but because to get the full attention of the Heathrow control tower and all the quiet to fly without disturbances.”
Margalit says the training he has received inside flight simulators made reacting to the problem very easy.
We immediately took fire suppressing measures in the engine, something we’ve been trained an uncountable number of times in the simulator,” he told Globes. “We did it from memory, without the need to consult the manual.”
The 17 year veteran of El-Al also flew F-15 aircraft in the Israeli Air Force.