ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-436 G-BNLL Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Sunday 22 December 2013
Type:Silhouette image of generic B744 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 747-436
Operator:British Airways
Registration: G-BNLL
MSN: 24054/794
First flight: 1990-05-30 (23 years 7 months)
Total airframe hrs:110578
Engines: 4 Rolls-Royce RB211-524G
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 17
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 185
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 202
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) (   South Africa)
Phase: Taxi (TXI)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB/FAOR), South Africa
Destination airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
The Boeing 747-436 operating British Airways Flight BA34 to London-Heathrow sustained substantial damage in a taxi accident at Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa.
The flight crew prepared for a departure from runway 03L and expected a taxi clearance for taxiway Alpha, which ran parallel to runway 03L. After pushback the flight was cleared by the Tower controller via a different route: "Speedbird 34, taxi Bravo to Cat 2 holding point, Runway 03L". The flight crew did not re-brief for this new route and instead the copilot, who was Pilot Flying, began taxiing towards taxiway B. "Straight down all the way isn’t it? It is, yeah makes it nice and easy doesn’t it? And Bravo will take us all the way to the threshold. I’m following this line jinking slightly to the right and then straight ahead. Perfect", the copilot stated.
Taxiway Bravo ran parallel to taxiway Alpha. But at some point the taxiway curved left where it merged with Alpha. At that point a smaller taxiway Mike proceeded straight ahead to an apron.
In night time conditions the pilots missed the curve to the left because the two green lead in centreline lights were inoperative. The taxiway information sign lighting was also inoperative. The flight continued onto Mike and the copilot noticed that the taxiway seemed smaller. The Tower controller noticed the crew's mistake on his ground radar and instructed the crew to stop: "Speedbird 34, hold your position". At that time the right hand wing impacted a building to the right of the taxiway. The wing sliced through the second storey, injuring four workers inside.
The aircraft was immobilized and passengers deplaned through the rear exit on the left hand side after a fuel leak was contained.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: The loss of situational awareness caused the crew to taxi straight ahead on the wrong path, crossing the intersection/junction of Bravo and Mike instead of following Bravo where it turns off to the right and leads to the Category 2 holding point. Following aircraft stand taxilane Mike; they collided with a building on the righthand side of Mike.
Contributory Factors: The crew did not conduct a briefing to discuss the cleared route, nor did they refer to the correct taxiway information in chart 10-6. In combination with the ground movement visual aids, this created confusion and loss of situational awareness when taxiing on taxiway Bravo.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 6 months
Accident number: CA18/2/3/9257
Download report: Final report


Damaged on the ground

» Map
» FAOR aerodrome chart
» SKYbrary 

Follow-up / safety actions

CAA S.A. issued 10 Safety Recommendations

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photo of Boeing-747-436-G-BNLL
accident date: 22-12-2013
type: Boeing 747-436
registration: G-BNLL
photo of Boeing-747-436-G-BNLL
accident date: 22-12-2013
type: Boeing 747-436
registration: G-BNLL
photo of Boeing-747-436-G-BNLL
accident date: 22-12-2013
type: Boeing 747-436
registration: G-BNLL

Video, social media

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 Johannesburg-O.R. Tambo International Airport to London-Heathrow Airport as the crow flies is 9046 km (5654 miles).
Accident location: Exact; deduced from official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
languages: languages


Boeing 747

  • 1574 built
  • 58th loss
» safety profile

 South Africa
  • 37th worst accident (at the time)
  • 41st worst accident (currently)
» safety profile

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