BA jet crash lands at Heathrow


Passengers escaped unharmed today after a British Airways jet crash landed at Heathrow Airport.

The aircraft appeared to have landed several hundred yards short of the southern runway – and just yards from a busy perimeter road.

The impact wrecked the undercarriage and caused extensive damage to both wings.

The aircraft’s emergency chutes were deployed but Scotland Yard said there were no reports of serious injuries. A spokesman also said there was no suggestion that terrorism was involved.

BA said the aircraft, a Boeing 777, was flight BA38 from Beijing.

The incident happened as Prime Minister Gordon Brown was due to leave Heathrow for China and India.

His flight was delayed because of the incident, but his jet was not involved directly.

Witnesses said around six fire engines were at the scene of the incident and the stricken jet was surrounded by a sea of firefighting foam.

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service said three passengers were assessed for minor injuries following the incident.

Six ambulances, two fast response cars and a hazardous response team were scrambled to the scene.

Scotland Yard said: “Police were called at 12.43pm to reports of an incident involving an aircraft on the southern runway at Heathrow Airport.

“We understand that all passengers and crew are currently being evacuated.

“There are no reports of any persons seriously injured at this time.

“There is nothing to suggest at this stage that the incident is in any way terrorist-related.”

A Heathrow airport spokesman said: “A British Airways flight arriving from Beijing carried out an emergency landing at 12.42pm. Passengers have been evacuated and there are currently no reported injuries.

“The Heathrow southern runway has been closed, but the northern runway remains open.”

The incident left the Prime Minster’s chartered British Airways 747 stranded by its departure gate.

Mr Brown was being accompanied by 25 leading businessmen in the official visit including Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson. Around 30 political journalists were also flying with Mr Brown.

Also on the plane bound for Beijing was Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

Passengers on the Prime Minister’s aircraft were told that because of the runway incident there was no fire cover for the rest of the airport, meaning all take-offs and landings were halted.

But an announcement on Mr Brown’s plane said that additional fire cover should be available within “20 minutes or so”, allowing take-off to resume.

There was no smoke visible from the crashed plane, which was surrounded by emergency vehicles.

It stopped about 1,000 metres from the Prime Minister’s plane.

A spokesman for air traffic control company Nats said planes were still taking off and landing at Heathrow under a single runway operation using the northern runway.

But delays to flights were expected, he added.

There were 136 passengers on the crashed plane, a British Airways spokesman said.

In statement, BA said: “A British Airways Boeing 777 operating as flight BA038 from Beijing to Heathrow has been involved in an incident at Heathrow today.

“Cabin crew have done an excellent job evacuating all 136 passengers on board with three minor injuries.

“BA will release further information as soon as it is available.

“Updated information will be posted on the BA website

“A telephone helpline for friends and relatives has been set up on 0800 3894193.”