BA jet's narrow escape after take-off from wrong runway

The commander of the British Airways Boeing 777 observed that the runway ahead looked "very short" as the plane prepared for take off from the Caribbean holiday island of St Kitts. Meanwhile, back among the 87 passengers on the shuttle flight bound for Gatwick via Antigua, were sitting two very anxious men: the local BA airport duty manager and station engineer.

Sitting together in aisle 10, they knew that the jet was about to take off from the wrong section of tarmac. The station engineer pulled off his seat belt and dashed forward in an attempt to alert the flight crew that "we are in the wrong position" – but had to sit down in row four as the plane soared into the air.

Back in the cockpit the co-pilot was at the controls, making his first take off from the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport. He could see the grass thundering past directly under his craft's nose, seconds after clearing the ground. Air traffic controllers estimated the plane took off just 300m from the end of the paved surface.

An Air Accident Investigation Report (AAIB) into the "serious incident" last September has found that the BA plane took off from a section of runway that was not long enough for the type of aircraft.

The incident occurred after the crew mistook which taxiway the aircraft should have been on, resulting in the jet ending up at an unauthorised point for take off. The plane was left with about 1,220m of take-off room – 695m less than if it had departed from the correct intersection.

According to the report, the 39-year-old co-pilot noticed something was wrong when he saw he had run out of runway below. "At this time he realised something was not right and realised that, although the aircraft was airborne, the end of the runway was closer than normal," the AAIB said.

The report found the authorities at the airport, which was renovated in 2006, had not installed any taxiway or holding point signs on the airfield at St Kitts. It also found that the trainee air traffic control officer on duty did not inform the flight crew they were at the wrong intersection.

A spokesman for BA, which had been operating the scheduled service, said it had strengthened safety procedures to new destination airfields.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003