Chinese firemen spray wrong plane with foam, cause 10hr delay

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When the pilot of an Air China passenger jet reported sparks in an aircraft's engine, firefighters rushed to the scene in a timely manner. But there was just one problem – when they arrived, they sprayed foam on the wrong plane.

Sparks on the Air China Boeing 737-800 plane were spotted by the pilot of a Fuzhou Airlines aircraft at Fuzhou Changle International Airport, in Fujian province, on Thursday afternoon. He contacted the control tower, which sent eight fire engines to the scene, the South China Morning Post reported.

However, when the firemen arrived four minutes later, the Air China jet had already shut down its engines – so the men blazed straight past that plane and zeroed in on the Fuzhou Airlines plane, after spotting heat emissions coming from its engines.

The firemen then hosed the Fuzhou Airlines plane down with foam. Passengers were able to watch the incident unfold through the plane's windows, as they had already boarded and were waiting for take-off.

It wasn't until two minutes later that officials in the control tower contacted the firemen to alert them they had sprayed the wrong aircraft.

The firefighters then turned their attention toward the correct plane, but the blunder caused a 10-hour delay for the aircraft that was sprayed by accident, according to AP. A total of 30 flights were delayed and the airport was shut for 90 minutes as a result of the incident. The airport has apologized for the inconvenience caused to passengers.

Air China said in a statement that the sparks seen coming from its engine were “normal” and would not pose any risk to the aircraft. It added that it is normal for some aircraft fuel to trigger sparks when the engine is running at low pressure.