Takeoff Aborted; Smoke Chases 193 Off Plane at LAX

A TWA jumbo jet aborted its takeoff at Los Angeles International Airport late Sunday afternoon, and crew members evacuated the nearly 200 people aboard after smoke and steam filled the cabin, fire officials said.

The crew aboard TWA Flight 8, an L-1011 Tristar en route to New York City, initially reported fire in the back of the main cabin at 4:22 p.m., a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

But Los Angeles city fire officials said firefighters found no blaze once they boarded the plane that carried 181 passengers and 12 crew members.

The jetliner was in its takeoff roll when a pneumatic air duct beneath the floorboard of the plane's cabin ruptured and started to fill the compartment with a combination of smoke, hot compressed air and steam, TWA spokesman Jim Faulkner said in St. Louis.

The duct takes in air from an engine "and supplies air to run various components of the plane, such as de-icing systems," he said.

After aborting the takeoff, the pilot pulled off the runway onto a taxiway where those on board were evacuated using inflatable slides, fire officials said.

Four flight attendants and one passenger complained of smoke inhalation and were taken to area hospitals for observation, Faulkner said.

Fire officials said at least three passengers also reported minor injuries such as twisted ankles after coming down the slides.

Two firefighters were also injured--one in the eye and the other sustaining a fractured rib, when a high-pressure water hose burst and whipped into them.

TWA officials said passengers were being offered seats on later flights.

The cause of the plane's trouble was being investigated by federal officials.

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