Breaking News: Airliner Crash Lands Short Of Heathrow Runway

By Londonist Last edited 134 months ago
Breaking News: Airliner Crash Lands Short Of Heathrow Runway

An airliner crash landed at Heathrow this lunchtime.

Eye-witnesses on BBC Five Live and forum posters watching on TV suggest that BA38 from Beijing landing on runway 27L at Heathrow, wobbled on an usually low approach angle making a heck of a lot of noise. The rudder nearly clipped the perimeter fence, missing by only a few feet. Its undercarriage seemed to be up and then the plane belly-flopped into the grass short of the runway, then veering 70-90 degrees to the right, shedding debris from the back with some of the doors which appeared to be open. If it had been landing the other way it would have been over Hounslow, a major centre of population.

Thankfully, all passengers were safely evacuated with only 3 suffering minor injuries. The cabin crew have been praised by BA.

Gordon Brown has been delayed en route to China as the Southern runway remains closed. Planes are taking off and landing but there will be severe delays.

Many thanks to Duncan for updates!

Update 19:30pm: A Heathrow airport worker has told the BBC that the pilot claimed all electronics on his Boeing 777, flight BA038 from Beijing, were lost shortly before landing at 12:42pm today. As reported earlier, the 16 BA crew safely evacuated all 136 passengers with only 13 minor injuries being treated in nearby Hillingdon hospital, the worst of which is a broken leg and the most common whiplash. Short haul flights from the airport have been cancelled for the rest of today whilst many incoming flights are being diverted to Gatwick, Luton or Stansted.

The aircraft, said to be around six years old and only ever owned by BA, is one of 43 Boeing 777s in their fleet. Since their inception in 1995 no 777 has ever been lost in a crash, though observers feel this one may well be beyond repair. One characteristic of the vessel is that, unlike many long haul planes, it only has two engines. Double failure would be in the realms of the extraordinary, but the aircraft is believed to fly under regulations that say that, while in the air, it must always be within two hours reach of an airport. You can watch a four minute promotional film of a 777 being manufactured here, while other videos from both a pilot's and flight path observer's view show you what it's more usually like when one of them lands on Heathrow 27L.

Last Updated 17 January 2008