Carrier prosecuted for 'putting lives in danger'

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The Independent Online
The first criminal prosecution against a scheduled airline for endangering the life of passengers is being brought by the Civil Aviation Authority, after a British Midland jet with 180 people on board made an emergency landing when both engines ran out of oil.

The incident last year, on a flight from East Midlands to Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, occurred on the Boeing 737's first flight after routine maintenance at the airport. The flight, BD3141, on 23 February, had just reached cruising height when the pilots noticed low oil-pressure readings on both engines.

In a statement issued yesterday, the airline, Britain's second-largest scheduled carrier, said that the lack of oil pressure had been caused when "two components which had been removed from the aircraft were not correctly repositioned". It appears that two oil caps were not replaced, resulting in the loss of oil from both engines, which had smoke pouring out of them when the plane made an emergency landing at Luton. The 173 passengers and seven crew were unhurt.

British Midland is charged with two summonses under the Air Navigation Order 1989 for "negligent endangering" of both passengers on the aircraft and the public at large. The airline faces a maximum fine of pounds 2,000 on each count. A two-year prison sentence can be imposed, but as the prosecution is being brought against the airline rather than any individuals, it is not relevant in this case.

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