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March 4, 2005
Does British Airways Only Own One Airplane?

CNN reports that British Airways has had another in-flight engine failure that they ignored to complete the flight on time. Remarkably, the plane involved is the same one that blew an engine on takeoff last week, ran out of fuel, and forced to make an emergency landing in Manchester -- and the engine that failed yesterday was the replacement for the first failure:

British Airways jet that continued on an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles to London after one of its four engines lost power also flew on three engines on a later flight from Singapore to London, the airline said Friday.

The Boeing 747 left Singapore on February 25 and landed at London's Heathrow Airport the next day, arriving only 15 minutes behind schedule, BA spokesman Jay Marritt said.

Three hours into the 14-hour flight, an oil pressure indicator showed there was a problem with one of the engines, which the captain shut down as a precaution, Marritt said. It was the captain's decision to continue with Flight 18, which was carrying 356 passengers, he added.

"It's still very safe to fly a 747 on three engines," Marritt said. "It is certified to do so."

Yes, that's what BA kept telling its passengers as it coasted towards Manchester on fumes after having passed up numerous opportunities to land and get serviced in the US and Canada last week. Now we find out that the plane hardly even got a routine maintenance check and got fitted with a faulty replacement for the passengers that BA claims are its first priority. Their spokesman insists that this is just all a strange coincidence, but it appears much more likely that British Airways is simply incompetent to operate a transoceanic service.

I honestly thought when I read this story at first that CNN was reporting on the earlier story and had the facts incorrect. I started thinking about how to fact-check the article when I finally realized that this was a separate incident involving the same plane. I could not believe that British Airways would do the same thing twice in a week, with the same aircraft.

Again, I'd like to see the FAA force BA's corporate officers or their families to sit on every transoceanic flight for the next six months as a requirement for allowing them access to US markets. Perhaps when their own safety is at stake, British Airways will discover the importance of competent management decisions.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 4, 2005 8:15 AM

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