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Pilot in near miss found dead in car

THE CAPTAIN of a British Airways 747 jumbo jet whose aircraft came close to one of the worst disasters in flying history after it narrowly avoided crashing into a Heathrow airport hotel has been found dead in a fume-filled car.

The body of Capt William Glen Stewart, who resigned from British Airways in 1990, was discovered yesterday at a beach car park in St Andrews, Fife.

Mr Stewart, 55, a father of three, was captain of a British Airways flight from Bahrain which narrowly avoided disaster as he tried to land at Heathrow in bad weather in November 1989.

Capt Stewart was accused of negligently endangering his aircraft and 262 crew and passengers after mistaking lights on the A4 Bath road for the runway he was supposed to land on. His jet flew within 'tens of feet' of the Penta Hotel, scattering residents and staff and triggering car alarms.

He resigned and two flight deck crew were demoted after an British Airways inquiry. The hearing criticised them for allegedly breaking regulations on low-cloud landings.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which endorsed his licence preventing him from flying as a pilot in command of a commercial aircraft, also brought criminal charges. Capt Stewart, who denied the charges, was found guilty of endangering the jet and passengers but not guilty of endangering people and property on the ground. He was fined pounds 2,000 and ordered to pay pounds 1,500 costs.

Afterwards, Capt Stewart, a pilot for 35 years, said he had been made a scapegoat.

He was the first commercial pilot to be found guilty of criminal negligence. He did not appeal against the conviction.

Police said Mr Stewart's body was found by a man walking his dog. A pipe from the exhaust ran inside the car. Capt Stewart was born in Cupar, 10 miles away.