BA jet collapsed at Heathrow because mechanic was 'too short' to correctly put locking pin in place


BA passenger jet collapsed onto its nose at Heathrow because a mechanic was too SHORT to put a locking pin in a correct hole, air crash report reveals

  • British Airways aircraft collapsed on its nose while at Heathrow during a test 
  • No passengers were harmed as the Boeing 787-8 was due on a cargo flight 
  • Lead mechanic was ‘too short’ to put locking pin in correct place, according to Air Accidents Investigation Branch report, so instructed taller colleague to help 
  • But the second mechanic caused chaos after placing the pin into the wrong hole 

A British Airways jet collapsed on its nose while at Heathrow because a mechanic was too short to correctly place a locking pin in a hole, a new report has revealed. 

The lead mechanic, who has not been named, intended to use the device to lock the nose landing gear of the Boeing 787-8 in the down position while its hydraulics were to be tested.  

But a preliminary report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed that he was ‘not tall enough’ to reach the locking pin hole without steps.

He asked his taller colleague to place the pin in position and ‘pointed’ to the location of the hole, but the second mechanic ended up putting it in the wrong recess.

The result was that the nose landing gear suddenly retracted into the flying position when the hydraulics were tested by an engineer on the flight deck.

The front of the plane which was being prepared for a flight to Frankfurt smashed down to the ground, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the lower nose, the landing gear doors and engine cowlings.

An open door on the left side of the aircraft was ripped off its hinges and left hanging by its wiring after striking the top of a set of mobile steps.

This British Airways jet (above) collapsed on its nose while at Heathrow Airport because a mechanic was too short to correctly place a locking pin in a hole, a report has revealed

This British Airways jet (above) collapsed on its nose while at Heathrow Airport because a mechanic was too short to correctly place a locking pin in a hole, a report has revealed

Investigators found that the nose landing gear locking pin had accidentally been put into the wrong place - a recess called the apex pin inner bore instead of the correct hole which was adjacent to it

Investigators found that the nose landing gear locking pin had accidentally been put into the wrong place – a recess called the apex pin inner bore instead of the correct hole which was adjacent to it

Shocking photos showed the Dreamliner 787-8 with its nose on the ground and broken landing gear while a stair car stood by at around 8am on June 18, 2021.

Hundreds of Heathrow passengers watched on as airport emergency crews rushed to the scene as medics assessed two staff – with one in need of hospital treatment.

The report said that a cargo loader who was on the ground beside the forward cargo hold and the co-pilot on the flight deck also received minor injuries.

It added that the lead mechanic had successfully used a set of portable steps to install the four locking pins for the main landing gear of the aircraft.

The successful installation meant that the main landing gear did not retract when the hydraulics were tested and only the nose of the aircraft was affected. 

Hundreds of Heathrow passengers watched on as airport emergency crews rushed to the scene as medics assessed two staff - with one in need of hospital treatment

 Hundreds of Heathrow passengers watched on as airport emergency crews rushed to the scene as medics assessed two staff – with one in need of hospital treatment

Airport emergency crews rushed to the scene after the mistake ensured thousands of pounds worth of damage to the plane's lower nose, the landing gear doors and engine cowlings

Airport emergency crews rushed to the scene after the mistake ensured thousands of pounds worth of damage to the plane’s lower nose, the landing gear doors and engine cowlings

Investigators found that the nose landing gear locking pin had accidentally been put into the wrong place – a recess called the apex pin inner bore instead of the correct hole which was adjacent to it. 

An identical error was made on another Boeing 787 in 2018, causing its nose to collapse on the tarmac.

As a result, Boeing put out a service bulletin in March 2019, saying that an insert should be placed in the apex pin inner bore of other aircraft to stop the locking pin being placed in the wrong position.

The Federal Aviation Administration stated in January 2020 that the work should be done on all relevant Boeing jets within three years.

But the report found that the work had not yet been done on the BA aircraft involved in the accident at the time.

It added that BA was now planning to ‘expedite the incorporation’ of the recommended safety improvement to its fleet.

The report concluded: ‘The investigation continues and will consider the safety procedures associated with landing gear maintenance, and the factors which may have contributed to the nose landing gear downlock pin being incorrectly installed in the apex pin inner bore.

‘A final report will be published in due course.’

The report said the accident happened during a test of the hydraulics to clear routine maintenance messages before the aircraft’s departure.

The lead mechanic, who was too short to put in the crucial pin and asked for assistance, had sent a message to the engineer on the flight deck to say that all the pins were in place.

The report stated that he appeared to have been misled as he had seen warning flags which appeared to show them in place even though the crucial one for the nose landing gear was in the wrong position.

British Airways has a total of 30 Dreamliner 787s in it’s fleet, 12 being 787-8 and the rest being the slightly larger and newer 787-9 type. 

British Airways confirmed that no passengers were involved in the incident as the aircraft was on a cargo flight.

The airline added in a statement today: ‘Safety is always our highest priority and we are working closely with the AAIB on the continuing investigation.’

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