Smoke fills plane after explosion while pilot 'flees across runway'

A pilot on a Spanish budget airline has been accused of fleeing from a plane as it set alight.

The ‘explosion’ happened on a Vueling flight from Barcelona to Birmingham on Saturday.

Smoke started to fill the cabins and passengers were left even more stunned to discover the pilot had escaped the aircraft rather than look out for their safety.

Andrew Benion, 50, said he was belting up when there suddenly was a ‘huge bang’ and the smell of smoke from the back of the plane.

‘All the lights went off and the emergency lights came on – it was terrifying,’ he told The Sun.

‘Next thing the stewards start going into meltdown, running up and down aisle – first, telling everyone to keep belts on, then to tell everyone to take their belts off.

‘One ran into the cockpit to tell the captain. Then as soon as a stewardess opened the front door the captain ran straight off. He was just gone. He was first off the plane. He did a full Costa Concordia.’

Mr Benion, from Telford, Shropshire, had been on a Mediterranean cruise with his wife Clare, 46, for his 50th birthday.

They were forced to travel with Vueling after British Airways cancelled their return flight.

Mr Benion said the stewardess began screaming for everyone to get off after the pilot fled, while a Spanish passenger next to them said ‘the plane is on fire’.

‘We couldn’t believe the captain just left us like that – he was running off to safety and we were all sat there like lemmings,’ he added.

The travellers were then escorted into a locked room at the airport and surrounded by police for an hour.

Mr Benion said they were finally taken onto another plane, but made to wait for a further 90 minutes while it was refuelled, and a new pilot showed up. has approached Vueling for comment.

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