I’m no fan of British
this story (paid sub. required) from the Wall Street Journal gives me
another reason to think again before doing a BA flight. Last year, after an
engine flamed out minutes after takeoff from Los Angeles, the pilots decided to
"get as far as we can" with the remaining three engines on a trans-Atlantic
flight to London. They made it to Manchester, with an emergency landing over
fears of running out of fuel.
LAX’s air traffic controllers saw the flame-out when the plane was only 300
feet in the air and prepared to guide it back. Was the decision prompted by
costs? The Wall Street Journal covers out $30,000 in fuel would have been
dumped, plus $275,000 owed in compensation under the EU’s delayed flight rules.
BA denies costs were a factor. BA says continuing on posed "no evidence" of a
significant increase in risk. Of course not — I mean if it did, you’d think
they would have had to do an emergency landing some place — oh, yeah, they did.
The story gets into a fight between the US FAA and the UK’s Civil Aviation
Authority. The FAA wanted to fine BA $25,000, despite a UK regulatory ruling
that seemed to find things were OK. The FAA then quietly dropped its attempt,
after the CAA said it would push for changes to BA’s procedures when flying in
The story goes on to say the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch found BA
has flown 747s to long-haul destinations 15 times since April 2001. Three other
airlines polled said they have policies similar to BAs; two require the plane to
land, if it has not reached cruising altitude and one had no policy. The other
airlines aren’t named in the article.