Questions asked by London Assembly about the BA plane with a burning engine flying over millions of Londoners
Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, has written to Heathrow authorities to ask why the BA aircraft with its engine ablaze was routed to fly back into Heathrow last week rather than being diverted elsewhere. Richard’s questions followed worried enquiries from Wandsworth councillors Rosemary Torrington and James Maddan who represent the riverside Thamesfield ward on the flightpath. He received a prompt response Heathrow’s Government Relations Manager: “The normal procedure in these circumstances if for the Captain to decide what is the safest course of action, and this is what happened in this case. This is an approved procedure.” Richard Tracey commented that the damaged aircraft flew over Slough, Watford, parts of Essex, Battersea, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith and Hounslow. “This is complete madness. Three or four million people on the ground were put at risk and thousands of travellers from Heathrow had their flights cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Stansted, Luton, Cardiff, even Manston”. “We are now seriously considering taking this further , including talks with Heathrow and British Airways.”
Questions asked by London Assembly about the BA plane with a burning engine
29.5.2013 (Putney SW15 .com)
Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, has written to Heathrow authorities to ask why the BA aircraft with its engine ablaze was routed to fly back into Heathrow last week rather than being diverted elsewhere.
Richard’s questions followed worried enquiries from Wandsworth councillors Rosemary Torrington and James Maddan who represent the riversideThamesfield ward on the flightpath.
He wrote, “I represent Wandsworth and Merton GLA constituency comprising around 500,000 people.
“Can I ask why Heathrow/BA decided to bring in a plane in flames right over central London rather than landing it in a country airfield like Farnborough or some such safer location.
“Could you please provide me with an answer promptly.”
He received a prompt response as requested from Abigail Morris, Heathrow’s Government Relations Manager: “The normal procedure in these circumstances if for the Captain to decide what is the safest course of action, and this is what happened in this case. This is an approved procedure.
I appreciate you wanted a quick answer, and I hope this covers that request, but happy to meet and discuss the procedures in more detail alongside our BA colleagues if this would be helpful.”
Richard Tracey has reported back to his Conservative colleagues on Wandsworth Council, but still they feel that, as the blazing aircraft flew over Hertfordshire and Essex before returning to Heathrow over east London and then the densely populated west London boroughs, a decison should have been taken to divert it to one of the less populated areas with an airport
Richard comments, ” My colleagues say the aircraft, with an engine on fire flew over Slough, Watford, and parts of Essex, before returning over the Thames Estuary and crossing south London, Battersea, Putney, Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith and Hounslow. This is complete madness. Three or four million people on the ground were put at risk and thousands of travellers from Heathrow had their flights cancelled. Incoming flights were diverted to Stansted, Luton, Cardiff, even Manston, and departing flights cancelled. Some flights were still being cancelled 24 hours later.
“We are now seriously considering taking this further , including talks with Heathrow and British Airways”
Local residents made their concerns clear on the Putney Forum. Regular contributor Jonathan Callaway wrote: “The more I think about it the more astounding it is that this plane was allowed to fly back over the centre of London while clearly struggling with one engine fire and damage to the second engine. I know it landed safely but surely it should have been diverted to Stansted or another airport away from built-up areas.”
May 29, 2013
Image from passenger of the burning engine
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Picture from the Daily Mail 3.6.2013
New picture shows fire on BA jet as it landed at Heathrow Airport after engineers ‘failed to lock doors on both engines’
- Two engineers have been suspended while an investigation is carried out
- One was said to be physically sick when he realised what had happened
Full Daily Mail article, with more photos, at
Heathrow emergency landing of BA plane with engine on fire: Engine cowls had been left unlatched
Date added: May 31, 2013
Air accident investigators say the doors on both engines of the BA flight that made an emergency landing at Heathrow last week had been left unlatched. This was due to human error. Air accident experts said the coverings – the fan cowl doors – broke off and punctured the right engine’s fuel pipe, damaging the aircraft’s systems. The engine was extensively damaged. The jet flew back to Heathrow, on one engine, with smoke trailing from the other, right across heavily populated London. It landed safely. The findings were made in an interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is examining the cause of the emergency It will make its final report in a couple of months. The fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure. BA confirmed that 2 different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off. David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”. Airbus said there had, in the past, been 32 reported incidents of fan cowl doors not being shut.
Remarkable absence of concern about safety of Londoners in media reports of BA plane engine fire
Date added: May 24, 2013
While a BA plane limped back right across London, flying over miles of the city and thousands or hundreds of thousands of Londoners, with one burning engine and the outside of the other damaged – the media seem not even to consider the safety aspects of the story. It seems the cause of the problem could be a technical fault with the plane, rather than a bird strike. The Telegraph writes about the large number of passengers getting away for the bank holiday weekend, and how their flights are delayed. Simon Calder writing in the Independent takes the opportunity of heading his article “Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity” though he does have the decency to add one comment from a member of the public in his piece to say that “London is one of the very few cities in the world that has its main flight paths over the city. A very serious accident is not a question of if, but when.”
Damaged BA plane on one engine and trailing smoke from the other, flies right across London for emergency landing at Heathrow
Date added: May 24, 2013
A British Airways flight (BA 762) from Heathrow to Oslo was forced to turn back immediately after take off, due to what is likely to have been bird strike. The Airbus A319 was powered by two IAE V2500 engines. The left engine appears to have hit an object at take-off, which stripped off the engine cowling. The right engine then may have hit something, and there are observer accounts of a bang. The plane did a large loop around London, in order to land again, using only the left engine. Many observers saw, and recorded, the plane – trailing smoke from the right engine, as it flew right across London. The plane made a safe landing, though passengers were evacuated down emergency chutes, and there were only 3 minor injuries. Heathrow airport was disrupted for hours due to the emergency landing. While those in favour of expanding the airport are likely to use this dangerous incident to call for more airport capacity (so Heathrow can cope with incidents without delays) it would be more relevant and more responsible to question how safe it is to have disabled planes flying miles over densely populated London. Luckily this time, there was no crash. With Heathrow airport hoping to get another runway (or two) the safety issue of flying more and more planes over hundreds of thousands of people has to be confronted.