16 jets running out of fuel, and 34 with engine problems landed at Heathrow 2009 – 2013
Date added: March 23, 2014
The Standard reports that more than 260 planes landed at Heathrow with low fuel, engine problems or other technical faults in the last 5 years. The numbers are from official figures. There were 16 aircraft with low fuel, 34 with engine problems, and 216 with other difficulties that landed at Heathrow between 2009 and 2013. Many of the pilots would have demanded priority to land given their situation. There were 51 such incidents in 2013, 40 in 2012 and 66 in 2010. Zac Goldsmith said: “Anyone will be shocked to see these figures. It’s yet another reason why we should not be massively increasing, possibly doubling, air traffic over Heathrow.” Two reported near-misses involving planes using Heathrow are also being investigated. The most recent was between a Boeing 747 and a private jet in November 2013, and a regional jet and a paraglider two months earlier. Overseas Aid Secretary Justine Greening, MP for Putney and an- opponent of Heathrow expansion, has warned about the risks of a plane crashing on London, possibly due to a terror attack. In 2012 the Telegraph reported that there were 28 low fuel incidents at British airports between 2010 and 2012. They said that in 2013 there were over 224 low fuel emergency landings in 4 years (2009 – 2012) but these figures included incidents involving British-registered aircraft at overseas airports.
How 16 jets running out of fuel landed at Heathrow
By NICHOLAS CECIL (Evenng Standard)
21 March 2014 More than 260 planes landed at Heathrow with low fuel, engine problems or other technical faults in the last five years, official figures revealed today.
Sixteen aircraft with low fuel, 34 with engine problems, and 216 with other difficulties touched down there between 2009 and 2013. Many of the pilots would have demanded priority to land given their situation.
There were 51 such incidents in 2013, 40 in 2012 and 66 in 2010.
Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park, said: “Anyone will be shocked to see these figures. It’s yet another reason why we should not be massively increasing, possibly doubling, air traffic over Heathrow.”
He has led the campaign against a third runway at Heathrow but it has been shortlisted for expansion by the Airports Commission.
Two reported near-misses involving planes using Heathrow are also being investigated. The most recent was between a Boeing 747 and a private jet in November last year, and a regional jet and a paraglider two months earlier.
Overseas Aid Secretary Justine Greening, MP for Putney and an- opponent of Heathrow expansion, has warned about the risks of a plane crashing on London, possibly due to a terror attack. But a Heathrow spokesman said it is “one of the safest airports in the world”.
However these figures do not include any low fuel landings outside Britain by low-cost carrier, Ryanair, which is registered in Ireland.
Strict rules are in place to prevent aircraft running out of fuel within the EU.
They are not allowed to take off without enough fuel to reach their destination, alternative airports contained in their flight plan, an additional 30 minutes flying and a final approach before landing.
These incidents are understood to have occurred when flights were disrupted because of bad weather and had to spend longer in the air than planned.
The pilots would have sought a priority landing – jumping the queue ahead of other aircraft – if they felt they were digging too deep into their emergency reserve.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: When planning flights, all airlines have to ensure they carry not only enough fuel to reach their destination airport, but also two nominated diversions as well.
We work closely with the aviation industry to ensure strict safety standards are maintained.”
The incidents led to the aircraft being given landing priority by airports over other flights were often triggered by planes facing difficulties after having been diverted because of bad weather.
A number of airlines have been involved including Virgin Atlantic when two jumbo-jets sought priority landing at Stansted in January and last month Ryanair was forced to seek an emergency landing for three of its aircraft in Spain.
Although the total represents of fuel-related emergency landings is a reduction on 2008-10, when there were 41 such incidents, some pilots have warned the airlines are operating on very narrow margins as they seek to cut operating costs.
Legally pilots entering British airspace must not only carry enough fuel to complete their journey, but also a reserve which would allow them to reach an alternative airport with enough in hand to allow for 30 minutes circling before being permitted to land.
On top of that there must be a contingency reserve supply to cope with headwinds which can lead to more fuel being consumed.
Once they have less than 30 minutes flying time left, pilots have to seek an emergency landing.
There are two classifications of emergency landing. A “PAN” – standing for Procedure for Air Navigation Service – is a request for priority over other aircraft.
More serious is a Mayday, where fire and rescue will have to be put on alert.
In January two Virgin Atlantic flights, which had been diverted to Stansted because of bad weather, sought a PAN priority landing. According to CAA records this was because of a “fuel shortage”.
A Virgin spokesman said: Following standard procedures a PAN alert was issued to give priority landing. Our fuel management procedures are approved by the CAA and comply with all industry regulations.
“We plan our fuel loading on a number of factors, we carry more than regulatory minimums and load extra fuel for anticipated factors such as weather.”
On landing both aircraft, whose pilots had believed they were about to start using their reserve supplies, were found to have over the legal minimum fuel requirement in their tanks.
The Virgin planes were among 18 diverted to Stansted because of the weather, one other short haul operator also declared a Mayday because of a fuel shortage.
Ryanair, had to declare a fuel emergency in Spain last month, after three flights were left in a holding pattern for up to 70 minutes after being diverted from Madrid to Valencia during heavy storms.
One retired pilot told the Exaro website that he and his colleagues were under pressure from airlines because of the industry’s need to keep costs down.
“There is pressure on pilots by airlines to carry minimum fuel because it costs money to carry the extra weight, and that is quite significant over a year.
“The fuel burns of each aircraft are very carefully recorded over a very long time to get accuracy to enable the correct amounts of fuel to be loaded.
“There will always be the unexpected events, and that is why reserves are carried. The real poser is: what is a reasonable reserve?”
Much of the problem faced in Britain has been caused by shortage of runway space in south east England, according to David Reynolds, the head of safety at the British Airline Pilots Association.
“The way in which aircraft are being developed in becoming more fuel efficient, there is less need for fuel.
“However the problem comes when there are delays. The infrastructure in the South East is creaking and you can get cases where people want to know if you have the right amount of fuel to go anywhere.
“The very bad weather that we had in December caused pandemonium in the south-east of England. Aircraft were arriving and finding that they suddenly had nowhere to land because the airfield had closed or everybody else had gone there.”
“That reflects the pressure commercial pilots are under. Flying with too much fuel is expensive because it of the additional weight,” said Rob Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety.
“But the law the law is tough enough and needs to be regularly monitored,” he added.
British Airways Heathrow flight by ‘engine surge’ on take-off so returned for emergency landing
March 7, 2014
A British Airways plane was forced to turn back shortly after taking off at Heathrow Airport after an “engine surge” in the air. A witness said flames were “spitting out of the engine” as the aircraft took off at about 21:00 GMT on Thursday 6th March. British Airways said flight BA0364 to Lyon, France, touched down safely, and the aircraft would be “thoroughly checked over by engineers”. The southern runway was closed for about 16 minutes. A local resident who saw it said: “I was in the petrol station opposite the airport, which is when I heard the bang, so I turned around and the plane had flames spitting out of the engine with a spluttering noise as it was still taking off. I then watched it continue to climb and the engine was still emitting flames intermittently.” BA said “A flight experienced what’s known as an ‘engine surge’ as it took off from Heathrow, but it has now returned and touched down safely. So the plane would have limped back into Heathrow, probably flying miles across densely populated areas of London? The last incident of a plane having to make an emergency landing, and flying across London with a burning engine, was in May 2013, when the engine cowls had not been closed properly. Click here to view full story…
BA flight emergency landing at Heathrow due to engine covers unlocked: 9 passengers sue
July 12, 2013 A group of 9 British and Norwegian passengers have begun legal action against Airbus and Aero Engines, after the BA plane made an emergency landing at Heathrow in May. The flight to Oslo had to make an emergency landing, soon after take off, as the engine covers few open and fell off during take-off. The cover on the right engine split a fuel pipe on the engine which subsequently caught fire. The plane flew back with an engine burning, right across London, but landed safely and though passengers had to use the emergency shutes, no-one was hurt. The covers had not been closed and locked properly following maintenance checks the night before. The 9 passengers have now filed a complaint in the US saying that they have suffered severe psychological trauma as a result of the emergency landing, which has affected their personal and professional lives. There have been more than 30 other cases when engine covers have not been closed properly. It is likely that there will be more passengers joining the claim, which could total $25m Click here to view full story…