An initial report from the Air Accident Investigation Board has cited improper maintenance as the cause of last Friday’s emergency landing at Heathrow.
The report states that the cowls, which cover the aircraft’s engines, were not properly shut and, as a result, came off in flight. At least one of the cowls, which weigh up to 40kgs, struck the aircraft and caused damage to the wing, fuselage, landing gear and fuel pipe.
This is not the first time that this has happened with over 30 similar incidents previously reported to Airbus, the manufacturer of the A319 involved. Indeed last year Airbus issued a safety warning to all airlines involved, stressing the importance of properly fixing the cowls.
With regards the engine-fire, the AAIB added that previous incidents involving cowls coming off had never resulted in an engine fire and that investigations were continuing. It also made clear that earlier claims, emanating from the US, that the left-hand engine had stopped working, were incorrect.
Commenting on the report, British Airways CEO Keith Williams said: ”We welcome the publication of the AAIB interim report. We continue to co-operate fully with the investigation team and can confirm that appropriate initial action has already been taken in accordance with the AAIB’s safety recommendation to Airbus. We regret we are precluded from releasing or discussing any additional details while the AAIB investigation is ongoing. We commend the professionalism of the flight crew for the safe landing of the plane and the cabin crew and pilots for its safe evacuation. We continue to offer our full support to those customers who were on board the flight.”