Broken Airliners Seldom Mean Happy Endings

By Robert Mark on January 19th, 2008

First I can tell you that I don’t have any idea what the Sam Hill happened in London the other day when the crew of that British Airways Boeing 777 crashed their airplane on the end of the runway during landing.ba2385_268549a There are plenty of rumors flying about and right now this is not the time or the place to speculate. I’ll leave that to others.

What I think is important – no, make that really important – is that despite the crisis that busted that airplane for good, there were injuries, but no deaths. I’ve been in the back of an airplane during a hard landing, so I’ll bet some of those injuries were probably not good, but again, no one died.

The people at British Airways – the pilots, the flight attendants, even the people who trained those people deserve a huge pat on the back along with a few atta boys – or girls – for doing what they were trained to do in a crisis.

All of us who have been through aircraft recurrent, or company recurrent training know that the one element that can never be added to the training is that sense of extreme urgency tied to unbelievable adrenaline flow that shows up only when the emergency is real. Their folks got everyone out of a broken airplane safely and we ought not to forget that.

Seeing what’s left of that 777 also reminded me of that old Timex watch commercial that used to run here in the states … “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Let’s not forget to thank Boeing.

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5 Responses to “Broken Airliners Seldom Mean Happy Endings”

  1. Dale Kettring Says:

    Lucky, Lucky people, who were so fortunate to have such professionals to protect them.

    However, even with those professional, some were seriously hurt. My prayers go to them and their families while they deal with their injuries.

  2. Norman Says:

    Hi Rob,

    The initial aftermath is through, the press are now reporting anything they can get their hands on and inventing what they can’t. The poor jet is jacked up and under lights a couple of hundred meters from where she stopped sliding.
    They were exceptionally lucky and we all know it at BA. Had those motors stopped running ten seconds before they did, the outcome would have been heartbreaking.

    Let’s wait for the AAIB’s findings but whatever they are, they are likely to send shock waves through some section of the industry.

    Happy trails…

  3. PatinNJ Says:

    Let’s not coronate that crew yet. It may have been them at fault for the situation to begin with. Double engine failure at the end of a long flight? Fuel issues have to be looked at. Did they have enough? Was what they had in the right tanks? Were the proper pumps running? Maybe it was the electronic engine controllers but if that was the preliminary indication, wouldn’t they have grounded the fleet or issued an AD?

    Just remember the C5 crash – their commander called the crew heroes, then it turned out that they made many errors almost insuring that the crash would happen.

  4. Rob Mark Says:

    This is all very true and this is an important comment.

    While they dig through the muck on this one, I think I was trying to say that at least no one was killed in this event.

    As you well pointed out, watching that simulation of the C-5 crash some years back was unbelievable.

    There wasn’t a pilot among us who didn’t start yelling, “Get some power in there,” as the end of the runway climbed higher and higher in the windscreen.

    But as on that one, we’re going to have to wait and see.

  5. Norman Says:

    Absolutely Rob, The speculation seems to have dried up now, even amongst company pilots. We are all waiting to see. It comes down to Fuel, Engine Icing (core) or electrical disturbance/malfunction in the end as the other factors seem to have been discounted after investigation.

    You would not have seen the crew on the podium giving a statement to the press if the preliminary post accident investigation has produced ANY likely crew errors that could embarrass later. The boys were talking to the AAIB for five hours just after the event.

    The consequences for the various parties (Boeing/Rolls Royce and others) could be ‘pretty significant’.

    All personal opinions….

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