An engine of a Swiss RJ100 aircraft exploded seconds before take-off at the London City Airport.
Four people needed treatment for minor injuries after Geneva-bound LX437 with 74 passengers and a crew of four aboard suffered an engine problem, airport authorities said.
Mike Mompi, 28, who was flying to Switzerland for a ski holiday, said the Swiss International Airlines Avro RJ100 was revving up on the runway for take-off when it happened.
He said: "There was a large bang and flames which grew and grew and large chunks of what looked like chunks of red-hot metal started flying up.
"People started freaking out."
He added: "In about 20 seconds we would have been in the air."
The runway at the east London airport was closed for more than an hour after the incident at 3pm on Thursday.
Swiss International confirmed that the RJ100 aircraft suffered an engine problem and the pilot aborted take-off.
A spokeswoman said: "The pilot aborted take-off at low speed due to an engine problem.
"Passengers and crew have been safely evacuated."
She added that the company had launched an investigation into the cause of the incident.
An LCA spokeswoman said the plane had suffered a "technical issue" and three people were treated at the scene for minor injuries by the London Ambulance Service.
The runway reopened at 4.15pm but passengers have been warned they face disruption.
It is the latest incident to feature an RJ100 at the London City Airport. In February 2009 a British Airways flight from Amsterdam crash-landed when one of its wheels failed.
The 67 passengers and four crew on the flight from Amsterdam were evacuated and paramedics treated four people for minor injuries.
The aircraft derives from the old British Aerospace 146, which effectively ''made'' London City Airport.
When the hub in Docklands opened in 1987, the BAe 146 was for a time the only aircraft able to use the airport