Accident description
Last updated: 24 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 17 January 2008
Time:12:42
Type:Silhouette image of generic B772 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 777-236ER
Operator:British Airways
Registration: G-YMMM
C/n / msn: 30314/342
First flight: 2001-05-18 (6 years 8 months)
Total airframe hrs:28675
Cycles:3957
Engines: 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 895-17
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 16
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 136
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 152
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) (   United Kingdom) show on map
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Beijing-Capital Airport (PEK/ZBAA), China
Destination airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
Flightnumber: 38
Narrative:
Following an uneventful flight (BA38) from Beijing, China, the aircraft was established on an ILS approach to runway 27L at London Heathrow. Initially the approach progressed normally, with the Autopilot and Autothrottle engaged, until the aircraft was at a height of approximately 600 ft and 2 miles from touch down. The aircraft then descended rapidly and struck the ground, some 1,000 ft short of the paved runway surface, just inside the airfield boundary fence. The aircraft stopped on the very beginning of the paved surface of runway 27L. During the short ground roll the right main landing gear separated from the wing and the left main landing gear was pushed up through the wing root. A significant amount of fuel leaked from the aircraft but there was no fire. An emergency evacuation via the slides was supervised by the cabin crew and all occupants left the aircraft, some receiving minor injuries.
Initial indications from the interviews and Flight Recorder analyses show the flight and approach to have progressed normally until the aircraft was established on late finals for runway 27L. At approximately 600 ft and 2 miles from touch down, the Autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond. Following further demands for increased thrust from the Autothrottle, and subsequently the flight crew moving the throttle levers, the engines similarly failed to respond. The aircraft speed reduced and the aircraft descended onto the grass short of the paved runway surface.


CAUSAL FACTORS:
Whilst on approach to London (Heathrow) from Beijing, China, at 720 feet agl, the right engine of G-YMMM ceased responding to autothrottle commands for increased power and instead the power reduced to 1.03 Engine Pressure Ratio (EPR). Seven seconds later the left engine power reduced to 1.02 EPR. This reduction led to a loss of airspeed and the aircraft touching down some 330 m short of the paved surface of Runway 27L at London Heathrow. The investigation identified that the reduction in thrust was due to restricted fuel flow to both engines.
It was determined that this restriction occurred on the right engine at its FOHE. For the left engine, the investigation concluded that the restriction most likely occurred at its FOHE. However, due to limitations in available recorded data, it was not possible totally to eliminate the possibility of a restriction elsewhere in the fuel system, although the testing and data mining activity carried out for this investigation suggested that this was very unlikely. Further, the likelihood of a separate restriction mechanism occurring within seven seconds of that for the right engine was determined to be very low.
The investigation identified the following probable causal factors that led to the fuel flow restrictions:
1) Accreted ice from within the fuel system released, causing a restriction to the engine fuel flow at the face of the FOHE, on both of the engines.
2) Ice had formed within the fuel system, from water that occurred naturally in the fuel, whilst the aircraft operated with low fuel flows over a long period and the localised fuel temperatures were in an area described as the ‘sticky range’.
3) The FOHE, although compliant with the applicable certification requirements, was shown to be susceptible to restriction when presented with soft ice in a high concentration, with a fuel temperature that is below -10°C and a fuel flow above flight idle.
4) Certification requirements, with which the aircraft and engine fuel systems had to comply, did not take account of this phenomenon as the risk was unrecognised at that time.

Classification:
Forced landing outside airport

Sources:

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - United Kingdom
report status: INITIA
report number: AAIB Interim Report
report released:01-MAR-2009
duration of investigation:409 days (1 year 1.5 months)
download report: Accident to Boeing 777-236, G-YMMM at London Heathrow Airport on 17 January 2008 - Initial Report (AAIB Interim Report)
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investigating agency: Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - United Kingdom
report status: Final
report number: AAIB Report 1/2010
report released:09-FEB-2010
duration of investigation:754 days (2 years )
download report: Report on the accident to Boeing 777-236ER, G-YMMM, at London Heathrow Airport on 17 January 2008 (AAIB Report 1/2010)
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Follow-up / safety actions

AAIB issued 3 Safety Recommendations
NTSB issued 4 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of Boeing 777-236ER G-YMMM
photo of Boeing 777-236ER G-YMMM
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Beijing-Capital Airport to London-Heathrow Airport as the crow flies is 8097 km (5061 miles).

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