Jetliner evacuated in New York after smoke reported

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Passengers and crew on a Spirit Airlines jetliner parked at a gate at New York's LaGuardia Airport in preparation for a flight to Florida were evacuated on Saturday after a report of possible smoke in the aircraft, an airports authority spokeswoman said.

Firefighters responding to a call from the pilot found no visible smoke, said Cheryl Albiez, spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"Everyone was accounted for, there were no injuries nor further incidents," Albiez said.

The plane, Flight 197 to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, had 228 passengers and seven crew members and never left the gate for its scheduled 10.59am (10.59pm Singapore time) departure, Albiez said.

Spirit Airlines spokesman Stephen Schuler said in a statement that there were reported sparks in the plane's auxiliary power unit, a generator that provides electricity to the plane while on the ground.

The unit automatically detected the problem and turned itself off, Schuler said.

A maintenance crew was doing safety checks before clearing the plane for takeoff, he said.

Passengers were being accommodated on other aircraft if they preferred, he said.