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Flights resume after Tullamarine runway fire

A Vietnam Airways aircraft has been towed from the runway after a fire onboard forced the temporary closure of Melbourne Airport.

PT0M31S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37tqc 620 349

Debris falling out of a plane during take-off at Melbourne Airport left spot fires burning across the runway, causing all flights to be suspended.

Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said the aircraft did not catch fire, and said initial reports indicated engine failure caused the Vietnam Airways plane to break down.  

The disabled Vietnam Airways plane that's forced the suspension of all flights at #Tullamarine @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/4C4Z2ySmfv

All flights were suspended temporarily after the incident at 10.50am on Tuesday.

Ms Gillett denied earlier reports that the plane itself had caught fire.

“There was an issue with a departing Vietnam Airlines flight, and as a result of that the aircraft became disabled,” she told Fairfax Media.

Ms Gillett said the fire was the result of debris that came out of the aircraft, and that the heavy smoke was due to the plane braking suddenly.

“Because of the force in the plane, things get fairly hot, and that’s why they generally catch fire. The debris caught fire as it hit the ground, leaving spot fires on the runway.”

She said the plane broke down at the intersection of “our two runways, which is why we had to suspend all flights for the safety of everyone”.

Eight incoming flights were diverted to other airports.

The aircraft has since been taken to the parking bay for a clean-up, Ms Gillett said. All flights have resumed.

Peter, a passenger on the Vietnam Airlines plane, called ABC 774’s Jon Faine while he was still stuck on the aircraft.

“We’re on the runway, it’s starting to move again, but we’ve been stopped for about half-an-hour or so. Not sure what’s going on,” he said.

Peter said passengers were informed that the aircraft had experienced engine failure just as it was about to take off. He said everyone was safe “but a little anxious and shaky”.

He estimated the plane was about three-quarters full at the time.

The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau will conduct an investigation into the incident.