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LONDON "” A British Airways passenger jet crash-landed just short of a runway at London's Heathrow airport on Thursday, plowing a way across open grassland before skidding to a halt when it hit the tarmac with parts of its undercarriage torn off.

Three people were slightly injured and the airport "” one of the world's busiest "” was closed temporarily, according to officials from the ambulance and aviation authorities. The disruptive effects of the closure on trans-Atlantic and European air traffic were not immediately clear.

The jet, a twin-engined Boeing 777, was in the final minutes of a scheduled flight "” BA 38 "” from Beijing. Witnesses interviewed by British news organizations said the plane, with 136 passengers on board, seemed to be banking steeply to make its final approach to Heathrow with its engines on full power.

Neil Jones, a recreational pilot interviewed by the BBC, said the airplane did not appear to be making the usual straight-line approach into Heathrow but had banked in sharply from one side. The plane's flaps and landing gear both seemed to be in their normal positions for a landing, he said.

Both Mr. Jones and another witness said the plane's engines were making much more noise than usual on approach, suggesting that the pilot was seeking to use the plane's power to avoid losing height.

A cab driver on his way to Heathrow said the plane seemed to clip a perimeter fence on its approach. Television footage showed what appeared to be a pair of undercarriage wheels lying on a grassy area before the runway.

The Boeing came to rest with wing and engine damage. Emergency chutes had sprouted from each side of the plane to enable passengers to evacuate the stricken aircraft, which had been doused in foam by the fire services.

One of the other airplanes at Heathrow prevented from taking off by the alert carried British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a delegation of business leaders heading to China and India.

The incident happened several hundred yards from the Boeing 747 used by Mr. Brown and police said there was no reason to believe that the episode was terrorism-related. Parts of Heathrow were re-opened soon after the incident, permitting Mr. Brown's plane to take off. But some incoming aircraft were diverted to other airports.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/world/europe/18heathrow.html
 
Posts: 2568 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Air crash investigators are trying to work out why a Boeing 777 landed short of the runway at London Heathrow airport, skidding on grass and ripping apart sections of the aircraft.


An investigator who has been briefed on the incident told CNN the plane's captain "is claiming there wasn't power when he needed it."

Passenger Paul Venter told the UK Press Association: "The wheels came out and went for touchdown, and the next moment we just dropped. I couldn't tell you how far."

London ambulance services said 17 people suffered minor injuries, and the number could increase as several others are still being assessed.

Images showed the Boeing 777 -- BA flight 38 from Beijing, China -- grounded on tarmac after touching down several hundred meters short of the airport's south runway, close to a perimeter road, with its emergency chutes deployed and white fire-fighting foam covering the engines.

The undercarriage, left wing and left engine of the aircraft were severely damaged, as if it had skidded across the ground. At least one of the plane's wheels had been torn off.

The most visible damage was to the left wing, which was covered in mangled metal where it meets the fuselage.

Tire tracks hundreds of meters long could be seen in the grass behind the plane, which was surrounded by fire engines and other emergency vehicles.

Eyewitness Neil Jones said the plane had made a "very, very unusual approach" to the airport and sounded louder than usual, PA reported.

"You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. I think he did a great job." Read passenger and eyewitness accounts of the crash landing

The BBC said an unidentified Heathrow worker told the broadcaster that he had spoken to the pilot. The pilot said, according to the worker, that the plane's electronics had failed and that he was forced to glide it to the ground.

Jerome Ensinck, a passenger aboard the flight, said there had been no indication that the plane was making an emergency landing.

"There was no indication that we were going to have a bad landing," he said. "When we hit the ground it was extremely rough, but I've had rough landings before and I thought 'This is the roughest I've had.'

"Then the emergency exits were opened and we were all told we should go through as quickly as possible, and the moment I was away from the plane I started to realize that the undercarriage was away, and we had missed the runway.

"I feel lucky at the moment, but I think now I realize I've had a close call. If we had hit the runway, it would have been worse."

In a statement, British Airways said all 136 passengers and 16 crew members had been evacuated from the plane with six minor injuries taken to hospital.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh praised the actions of the crew. "We are very proud of the way our crew safely evacuated all 136 passengers on board," Walsh said in a statement.

"The captain of the aircraft is one of our most experienced and has been flying with us for nearly 20 years," he added.

Walsh also said that an investigation was being conducted by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and that it would be inappropriate to speculate about likely causes.

Airport authorities said Heathrow's southern runway had been closed, but the northern runway remained open. But the incident immediately led to major delays for passengers. Some incoming flights were being diverted to other airports on a flight-by-flight basis, according to Heathrow's Web site.

A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police said there was nothing to suggest the incident was terror-related.

The Boeing 777 is the mainstay of many airlines' long-haul fleets and has never been involved in a fatal accident. However, the aircraft involved in Thursday's incident appeared to have had a fortunate escape, having approached Heathrow over heavily-populated west London suburbs before its crash landing.

CNN's Richard Quest, who covers the airline industry, said it appeared the damage happened after the plane touched down.

The incident occurred at 12:42 p.m. (7:42 a.m. ET) as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was due to leave Heathrow for a visit to China and India. His flight was delayed but his jet was not directly involved, PA said.

"¢ British Airways has set up helpline numbers for friends and relatives concerned for passengers involved in the incident:


http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/01/17/heathrow...=Y&iref=mpstoryemail
 
Posts: 2568 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Two engines on the British Airways plane that crash-landed at Heathrow Airport "did not respond" to a demand for increased thrust about two miles from touchdown, an initial report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Friday.


John Coward was at the controls during the emergency.

The report describes the Boeing 777 hitting problems 600 feet off the ground and descending rapidly, just making it onto Heathrow land.


The report says: "Initial indications from [crew] interviews and Flight Recorder analyses show the flight and approach to have progressed normally until the aircraft was established on late finals for Runway 27L.

"At approximately 600ft and two miles from touch down, the Autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond.

"Following further demands for increased thrust from the Autothrottle, and subsequently the flight crew moving the throttle levers, the engines similarly failed to respond. The aircraft speed reduced and the aircraft descended onto the grass short of the paved runway surface." Read the full report (pdf)

The AAIB says that it will carry out further analysis of the flight data recorders and that examination of the aircraft systems and engines is ongoing.

The report came out as the jet's captain praised John Coward, his senior flight officer, who was at the controls at the time of the incident. As the Boeing 777 approached Heathrow's south runway, it appears to have lost power, forcing the emergency landing.

Captain Peter Burkill made a public statement Friday praising his crew, especially Coward, who did a "most remarkable job." Watch what Captain Burkill said about his crew and passengers »

"Flying is about teamwork, and we had an outstanding team on board yesterday," Burkill said.

"As captain of the aircraft, I am proud to say that every member of my team played their part expertly.

"I want to thank the passengers, too, for their calmness and good sense in extremely unfamiliar circumstances. I wish those who suffered injury a speedy and complete recovery."

BAA Heathrow, owner and operator of the airport, said earlier that 53 flights -- mainly short-haul -- had been canceled. It said it was working to restore "near-normal" operations.

The flight, BA38, was arriving in London from Beijing, China, when it reportedly lost power. The jet was still on the tarmac Friday.

Retired 747 captain Mike Giles, who has also flown the Boeing 777, said it was extremely rare for an aircraft to lose two engines within seconds of each other.


If the engines failed, he said, "It's got to have something to do with switching the fuel off, but that's my considered opinion."

Giles also dismissed the possibility that birds caused the crash.

"There is no way in this world that birds would stop two engines within seconds of each other," he said. "If it comes out as a 'bird strike' on both engines, I would be absolutely amazed. I would be astounded."

The plane may have hit a flock of birds, he said, but even then, "the chances of it stopping the engine dead, and a flock of birds stopping both engines at the same time, I think are a million to one.

"The situation must have occurred very late with the landing sequence because they didn't have time to tell passengers to get in the brace position, and they didn't have time to call the tower."

The accident happened at the east end of Heathrow's southern runway, one of only two at the airport. See the chain of events that airport officials will be investigating. »

Planes were still being allowed to use the southern runway Friday for takeoffs to the west -- away from the accident site -- and planes were using the northern runway for landings.

An investigator who has been briefed on the incident told CNN that the plane's captain "is claiming there wasn't power when he needed it."

The BBC said an unidentified Heathrow worker told the broadcaster that he had spoken to the pilot. The pilot said, according to the worker, that the plane's electronics had failed and that he was forced to glide it to the ground.

The jetliner touched down several hundred yards short of the airport's south runway, close to a perimeter road. Afterward, its emergency chutes deployed, and it was sprayed with white fire-fighting foam, which covered the engines.

The undercarriage, left wing and left engine of the aircraft were severely damaged, as if it had skidded across the ground. At least one of the plane's wheels had been torn off.

The most visible damage was to the left wing, which was covered in mangled metal where it meets the fuselage.

British Airways said all 136 passengers and 16 crew members were safely evacuated, while The Associated Press reported Friday that 19 people were injured.

The Boeing 777 is the mainstay of many airlines' long-haul fleets and has never been involved in a fatal accident since coming into service in 1995. It can seat up to 400 people, depending on the configuration.

However, the aircraft involved in Thursday's incident appeared to have had a fortunate escape, having approached Heathrow over heavily-populated west London suburbs before its crash-landing.

There are 680 of the planes around the world, with 357 ordered and yet to be delivered.

"You're talking here about essentially one of the most modern airplanes in the world," said Kieran Daly, editor of Air Transport Intelligence, a Web site that provides information on the aviation industry.

"This is an aircraft which is still being built in substantial numbers by Boeing -- and no doubt will be for a long time to come -- which is being flown by one of the most sophisticated and safest airlines in the world. And it's landing at one of the best-equipped, safest and most sophisticated airports in the world." E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jim Boulden and Mike Ahlers contributed to this report.


http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/01/18/heathrow...=Y&iref=mpstoryemail
 
Posts: 2568 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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