Friday, January 18, 2008

British Airways Flight 038: The day after

Crew of British Airways Flight 38The senior crew members from BA Flight 038, the British Airways Boeing 777 that crash landed at London's Heathrow International Airport (LHR) on January 17, were introduced at a press conference earlier today. Pictured here, left to right, are senior First Officer John Coward, who was the pilot flying at the time the emergency arose; Captain Peter Burkill, pilot in command; and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer, the senior cabin crew member on the flight.

Another flight deck crew member, First Officer Conor Magenis, is not pictured. Other cabin crew members were not identified by name.

The crew members were praised for their actions during the emergency -- the pilots for managing to land the disabled aircraft without causing any loss of life to those on board or on the ground; and the cabin crew for quickly initiating and efficiently carrying out the evacuation of the aircraft once it had come to a rest. Those who lauded the crew included UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and British Airways CEO Willie Walsh, as well as passengers who had been on board BA Flight 038.

The United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a preliminary report about the accident. The date and time of the accident were listed officially as 17 January 2008 at 1243 hrs in the report.

The one-page AAIB report presented a brief summary of the events leading to the aircraft landing short of runway 27L at LHR. The preliminary report, based on interviews with the crew, and initial examination of the aircraft's Flight Data Recorder, indicated that, "At approximately 600 ft and 2 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 struck the ground inside the airfield's perimeter fence, about 1000 ft. short of the paved surface of runway 27L, according to the AAIB report. The report went on to say that during the short ground roll, "the right main landing gear separated from the wing and the left main landing gear was pushed up through the wing root." The report also noted that a "substantial amount" of fuel spilled from the aircraft at the accident site, but there was no fire.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew members evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. According to the AAIB preliminary report, four crew members and eight passengers sustained minor injuries, while one other passenger's injuries were described as "serious." At least one news report mentioned that one passenger had suffered a concussion and had remained in hospital overnight, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The AAIB report lists damage to the aircraft as "substantial." The accident aircraft was described by the AAIB as a Boeing 777-236, registration number G-YMMM, manufactured in 2001. The aircraft was powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 Trent 895-17 turbofan engines.

The accident investigation is ongoing, under the direction of the AAIB, with assistance from other interested parties, as follows:
In accordance with the established international arrangements the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the USA, representing the State of Design and Manufacture of the aircraft, was informed of the event. The NTSB appointed an Accredited Representative to lead a team from the USA made up of investigators from the NTSB, the FAA and Boeing. A Boeing investigator already in the UK joined the investigation on the evening of the event, the remainder of the team arrived in the UK on Friday 18th January. Rolls-Royce, the engine manufacturer is also supporting the investigation, an investigator having joined the AAIB team.
The AAIB also reported that the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Quick Access Recorder (QAR) were retrieved from the accident aircraft.
The CVR and FDR have been successfully downloaded at the AAIB laboratories at Farnborough and both records cover the critical final stages of the flight. The QAR was downloaded with the assistance of British Airways and the equipment manufacturer. All of the downloaded information is now the subject of detailed analysis.
The AAIB report states that the focus of the continuing investigation will be "on more detailed analysis of the Flight Recorder information, collecting further recorded information from various system modules and examining the range of aircraft systems that could influence engine operation."

[Photo Source]

Related:  Click here to view all posts on Aircrew Buzz about British Airways Flt 038.