Firefighters were spotted on the runway at Gatwick after an airliner - the same type involved in the Japan Airlines crash - declared an emergency.

Cathay Pacific's flight 257 was forced to declare an emergency and make an unexpected turn just hours after a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 burst into a fireball on the runway in Tokyo.

The jet, which took off from Hong Kong bound for Heathrow, was also an Airbus A350, the same type involved in the catastrophe at Tokyo Haneda Airport yesterday morning.

The Argus: Gatwick Airport firefighters at a previous incidentGatwick Airport firefighters at a previous incident (Image: The Argus)

Airport firefighters met the plane on the runway at Gatwick after it declared an emergency at around 4.30pm yesterday and escorted it to a gate away from the main airport terminals, where its 350 passengers could get off.

Airbus has said it is assisting with the investigation into yesterday's disaster, in Tokyo which claimed the lives of five crew members in a coastguard plane, by the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses.

The pilots of the Cathay Pacific flight took off as normal from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok at 8.25am local time, and flew across Asia and Europe without incident.

However when they came to land at London Heathrow, the plane missed two approaches due to high winds caused by Storm Henk. Gusts of up to 69 miles per hour were recorded by the Met Office.

A decision was made to divert the flight to Gatwick Airport in a bid to get the plane on the ground before fuel ran out.

They declared an emergency to air traffic control by using the squawk code 7700, which lets controllers on the ground know the plane is experiencing a problem and needs to land quickly.

The plane registered B-LXP circled over Sevenoaks in Kent before joining the approach to Gatwick and landing on Runway 26L.

Read more: EasyJet plane with no hot sandwiches makes emergency landing

Flight tracking software ADSBexchange captured the incident as it unfolded, showing the aircraft making several attempts to land before the diversion.

Fire engines lined up either side of the runway in anticipation of its arrival, and escorted it to the gate.

The Argus: The flight's route over the capitalThe flight's route over the capital (Image: ADSBexchange)

A Cathay Pacific spokesman said: "Cathay Pacific flight CX257, which departed from Hong Kong to London Heathrow at 8:25am local time yesterday made a precautionary diversion to London Gatwick Airport after it was unable to land at London Heathrow Airport as scheduled due to inclement weather conditions.

"The aircraft landed successfully at 4:40pm local time on the same day. We have provided local transportation to London Heathrow Airport for affected customers."

Airbus said the A350-900 operated by Japan Airlines on flight JAL516 crashed on the runway in Tokyo with a DHC-8 Japanese Coastguard plane shortly after 5:47pm local time on January 2.

All 367 passengers and 12 crew members on-board evacuated the A350 but five of the six crew members onboard the DHC-8 died.

Both planes erupted into flames immediately after crashing and passengers had to use the emergency slides to evacuate.

A spokesman for Japan Airlines said: "According to interviews with the operating crew, they acknowledged and repeated the landing permission from air traffic control, and then proceeded with the approach and landing procedures."