British Airways plane suffered ‘significant damage’ when nose struck ground at Heathrow

The report said 'significant damage' was inflicted on the lower front section of the jet (AAIB/PA) Credit: AAIB

A British Airways plane suffered “significant damage” when its nose struck the ground at Heathrow Airport, an investigation has found.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the incident happened while the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet was being prepared for a cargo flight to Frankfurt, Germany, on June 18 last year.

A pin inserted in the wrong place led the landing gear under the plane’s nose to retract during a maintenance procedure, causing the aircraft to tip forwards.

This resulted in minor injuries to the co-pilot who was in the cockpit and a member of the cargo loading crew.

The force of the impact with the ground caused some onboard passenger oxygen masks to drop and overhead baggage compartment doors to open.

“Significant damage” was inflicted on the lower front section of the jet, the report stated.

Doors were partially detached from their hinges and deep scratches were scored into the fuselage skin.

The British Airways flight crew told investigators that when they left the aircraft the situation was “mayhem” as they were confronted by a large number of people who wanted to know what had happened.

Pressure from ground staff “impeded their conduct of post-incident duties”, the AAIB said.

The design of the aircraft created “an opportunity for error” when inserting the nose landing gear locking pin, the investigators concluded.

Guidance on how to avoid the mistake had previously been published but action had not yet been taken with the plane involved in the incident.

The deadline for compliance is January 2023.

The AAIB said the operator - British Airways – and Heathrow have introduced “a number of safety actions” in relation to aircraft modifications and maintenance, and incident response procedures.

A British Airways spokesman said: “Safety is always our priority and we’ve put a number of stringent measures in place to help mitigate the chance of an incident like this happening again in the future.”