Matildas star Steph Catley forced to evacuate burning plane with her Arsenal teammates after it caught fire on runway when a bird flew into the engine as they tried to return from Germany
- Arsenal women’s team in drama on Sunday evening
- Their plane burst into flames on the runway
- They remained in Germany on Sunday night
Australian football star Steph Catley was caught up in the drama when the plane carrying the Arsenal women’s team back from their Champions League semi-final first leg with Wolfsburg burst into flames on the runway on Sunday evening.
The incident occurred at the Braunschweig Wolfsburg Airport after a bird flew into the engine shortly before it was due to take off, causing a loud bang.
Flames immediately started to come out of the left engine of the Boeing 737, and the pilots on board quickly evacuated the passengers, including Arsenal’s first team squad, to safety.
Arsenal have released a statement confirming they returned home safely this morning.
The statement read: ‘Our aircraft developed a technical issue prior to take-off in Germany on Sunday evening.
The left engine of Arsenal women’s team’s plane burst into flames on Sunday evening
The plane caught fire shortly before it was due to take-off to take the players back to England
Matildas defender Steph Catley is pictured arriving in Hamburg on Arsenal’s plane on Saturday
The Arsenal squad were evacuated to safety and stayed overnight in Germany on Sunday
Arsenal used the same airline to get to Germany on Saturday, but had to make alternative arrangements to get back to London
‘As a result, we remained in Wolfsburg overnight on Sunday before flying back to England on Monday afternoon. We would like to thank the staff onboard the aircraft and on the ground at the airport for their assistance.’
The team used a Maltese airline to fly to Germany on Saturday, and were due to fly back with the same airline the following evening.
However, after the engine caught fire, they were forced to switch to a replacement airline to get back to England on Monday morning.
Following their return from Germany, Arsenal can now look forward to trying to seal their place in this year’s Champions League final after fighting back to earn a 2-2 draw in Sunday’s first leg.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A BIRD STRIKES A PLANE?
Bird strikes can pose a considerable safety risk and can even cause death, although this is rare.
It has been estimated that only one fatality occurs due to every billion flight hours.
The most common instances of bird strikes are when they either fly into the windscreen or get sucked into the jet.
The latter can cause engines to fail and, as a result, to set on fire. The biggest risk is when birds fly into the engine.
It is believed that 90 per cent of bird strikes occur while a plane is landing, taking off or when it is at a low altitude.
The amount of damage done to the aircraft depends on the size, weight and speed of the bird and the aircraft itself, according to SimpleFlying.com.
Bird strikes remain relatively uncommon but do generate headlines when they happen.
The famous landing of a US airways flight on the Hudson by Chesley Sullenberger came after the plane flew into a flock of birds shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport in New York.
The Gunners got off to the worst possible start as they fell two goals behind to their German opponents inside 24 minutes.
However, Rafaelle Souza pulled a goal back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time, and Arsenal made it 2-2 through Stina Blackstenius with 21 minutes remaining.
Arsenal’s comeback was a positive response after a difficult week when they were beaten by Manchester United in the league, in a game that saw Leah Williamson pick up a long-term knee injury that has ruled her out of the World Cup.
The return leg against Wolfsburg takes place next Monday at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal fought back from two goals down to draw with Wolfsburg on Sunday afternoon