Thursday, September 30, 2010

Captain Peter Burkill to resume flying for British Airways

by B. N. Sullivan

Captain Peter Burkill, who was the commander of the British Airways Boeing 777-236ER that crash landed at London's Heathrow International Airport in January of 2008 will soon return to work as a pilot for the airline.  The aircraft, operating as British Airways Flight 038, was arriving at Heathrow from Beijing when itt experienced an uncommanded loss of thrust in both engines.  The aircraft (registration G-YMMM) landed short of Heathrow's runway 27L.  The plane was damaged beyond repair, but all 16 crew members and 136 passengers survived.

After a lengthy investigation, the UK's Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) determined that ice had formed within the fuel system and had obstructed fuel flow to the engines during the approach to Heathrow, causing the dual engine rollback and subsequent failure to respond to throttle inputs.

The actions of the crew in the face of such an unprecedented emergency saved the lives of all on board.  The AAIB report concluded that it was Capt. Burkill's split-second decision to reduce the flap setting that had allowed the aircraft to avoid colliding with an ILS antenna and to land as near to the runway threshold as it did.  All of the flight's three pilots and 13 cabin crew were awarded the British Airways Safety Medal for their actions that day.

Nevertheless, several months after the accident, Capt. Burkill took voluntary redundancy and left the British Airways.  Unfortunately, he was unable to find an appropriate position elsewhere.  Capt. Burkill and his wife told the tale of the events surrounding the accident and its aftermath, and the effects on their lives in a book called "Thirty Seconds to Impact," published earlier this year.

Now, nearly three years after the accident, Capt. Burkill is preparing to return to work at British Airways.  Yesterday he posted a message on his blog, which said in part:
I am delighted that the discussions with British Airways, have come to a mutually, happy conclusion. In my opinion British Airways is the pinnacle of any pilots' career and it is my honour and privilege to be returning to an airline that I joined as a young man.
He also expressed "thanks for all the support we have been given over the past couple of years, from family, friends, colleagues and strangers. We are looking forward to resuming a 'normal' life and anonymity once again!"

Godspeed, Peter Burkill.

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