‘Power Loss’ Reported in BA 777 Short Landing at Heathrow

 - January 17, 2008, 8:22 AM

Reports attributed to the captain of a British Airways Boeing 777 that sustained heavy damage when landing at London Heathrow Airport at about 12:42 GMT today indicate that the airplane lost all power before touching down short of Runway 27L. Flight BA038 inbound from Beijing reportedly touched down 1,200 feet short of the threshold and “almost 3,000 feet short” of the normal touchdown point for landing. The airplane came to rest astride a taxiway junction near the threshold. The reports of “total power loss” did not specify whether that meant engine or electrical power. 

Officials reported minor injuries to six occupants shortly after a seemingly straightforward emergency evacuation from the aircraft, which settled on its belly and engine nacelles. Non-expert witnesses described a steep left roll at a late stage in the 777’s approach before it touched down, and air-to-ground television footage showed impact marks on the grass to one side of the extended centerline. The same images depicted the left main landing gear punched up through the upper surface of the wing, and the right undercarriage leg apparently hinged back from, but still attached to, the starboard wing. However, reports suggested a large section of undercarriage had detached from the aircraft at the initial touchdown point. The lower side of the right-hand engine nacelle appeared flattened by the impact.

The 777’s crew did not declare an emergency and made no cabin announcement requiring passengers to brace for an impact. All remaining BA short-haul flights outbound from London’s Heathrow Airport were subsequently cancelled since they use Terminal 4 to the south of RWY 27L, which subsequently opened for takeoffs only.