Probably Not a Good Day to Fly To Heathrow

777, Accidents/Incidents, British Airways, LHR - London/Heathrow

If you’re traveling through London/Heathrow today, you might want to call your airline and see if things are running on time. They haven’t exactly had the best of luck there these last couple of days.

See, yesterday a British Airways 777 landed on the grass before it got to the concrete, skidded, and ended up stopping right at the threshold to one of Heathrow’s two runways, as you can see below.

08_01_18 ba777accident

Everyone got off ok, and that’s pretty amazing. I spent the day yesterday going back and forth with a bunch of airline dork friends discussing what could have possibly caused this to happen. The weather was good and there weren’t any visibility issues, so that’s unlikely to have been the problem. There were reports that the engines failed, so what would have caused it? Did it run out of fuel? Maybe, though unlikely. It didn’t catch on fire, so that’s always possible.

I know, I should really keep out of this whole speculation game. Remember that potential “undular bore” that the Air Canada plane may have hit? Well, there are now reports that it could have been wake turbulence from a 747 passing in front of it. Not nearly as interesting, but certainly plausible. So, it makes me want to reserve judgment on this accident even though it’s so interesting.

The Daily Mail, however, has no problem speculating that it may have been a bird strike that shut down both engines simultaneously just a minute before landing. They have a bunch of incredible pictures and more details on the site. The odds of that seem so unbelievably small. It made me wonder which was more unlikely: that scenario or Randy Johnson hitting a bird over home plate with his fastball a few years back.

Well, it doesn’t matter. They’ll figure it out soon enough, I’m sure. It’s interesting to note that this is the first major accident I can think of involving a 777. That’s a very long and impressive safety record.

But back to my original point. That plane is still sitting at the threshold to the runway, so it may cause delays. Right now, I believe the runway is open to departing flights. (“And please don’t look to your right, ladies and gentlemen.”) Yesterday, when the runway was closed, most short haul flights were canceled or diverted so that long hauls could run. I imagine that the runway may need to close on and off for investigation and removal, so short haul flights may be affected again.

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7 comments on “Probably Not a Good Day to Fly To Heathrow

  1. What typically happens to an aircraft damaged as this one is?
    Are they ever repaired? To me, this one looks like a total.

  2. It’s too big an investment to total. The airframe is only 6 years old, so this will likely be repaired. In the case of a total loss, the aircraft is usually “parted out.”

  3. Like Hunter says, it’s a really big investment, so they’ll (or I should say, the insurance company will) do whatever they can to make it sure it flies again IF the price isn’t too high. If it costs too much, they’ll write it off and part it out.

    If the wings are punctured by the landing gear, and the fuselage is severely damaged, this one may very well go to the scrap heap.

  4. It is highly unlikely that this aircraft would not be written off as a total loss. They will mine it for parts though.

  5. I would agree with Mark on this. I worked for a few years in aircraft appraising. I can guarantee the owner of the aircraft has been in touch with 1-3 appraisal firms wanting to know the value of this aircraft. The firm will send it’s own inspector to the site. There will be many many discussions with all parties (BA, aircraft owner, insurance company, Boeing, JAA, FAA (probably)). It’s to early to say what they will decide.
    In reference to CF, the insurance company will also be doing similar sort of things but will use different appraisal firms.
    Basically, it will come down to money, what’s cheapest for the people paying out the money.. There will be quite of a bit of negotiating going on.

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