Saturday, January 19, 2008

A lucky day for BA38

I arrived at Heathrow this morning after a 14 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to catch a connecting flight to Nassau. However, my Nassau flight was delayed by over two hours – as were many other flights from Heathrow - due to the knock-on effect of all the cancelled flights following the crash-landing of British Airways flight 38 from Beijing on Thursday.

The southern runway where the Boeing 777 had come down was still blocked by the plane sitting on the apron at the end (see picture below) surrounded by two cranes and service vehicles. They seem to be taking a long time to move the aircraft away from the runway, but I guess that’s because the plane is still salvageable despite the damage to the engines, wings and underbelly, so they must be trying to find ways to move it without causing any more damage.


I didn’t realise until I saw the plane close-up (we took off on the southern runway from near where the plane was still sitting) that where it came to rest was where planes normally hold at the end of the runway waiting for other planes to land before they take off. I’ve sometimes thought that is a bit risky holding so close to the end of a runway – but I suppose accidents like this happen once in a blue moon. It was certainly lucky on Thursday that there was no plane at that holding point because then there could have been a terrible disaster if the B777 landing had ploughed into a fully fueled plane waiting to take-off. The fact that the plane lost power only 40 seconds out from landing, and that there was a wide area of grass between the airport fence and the end of the runway, plus the skill of the pilots, meant that everyone walked away from what could have been a far more disastrous crash. It was certainly a lucky day for all those on BA38 on Thursday.

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