The UK Air Accident Investigation Branch has confirmed that the fan cowl doors were left unlatched post maintenance on the plane, that lead to the incident of Flight BA762.
During take off, the cowls were lost on both engines, resulting in a punctured a fuel pipe in the right-hand engine – as well as the plane landing with the cowling’s gone.
The plane returned to Heathrow after an fire developed on the right hand engine, requiring the plane to fly on a single engine on approach to the airport. The left hand engine performed normally through all phases of flight.
The plane – G-EUOE has suffered damage during flight and landing.
The AAIB says:
“Subsequent investigation revealed that the fan cowl door on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance,”
“This was not identified prior to aircraft departure.”
Whilst the pilots were unaware of the loss of the cowling doors, there were issues in the cockpit with engine thrust-control degradation, a “significant” fuel leak, and the loss of the yellow hydraulic system.
The damage to the plane has resulted in issues with the inboard leading-edge slats, the skin of the fuselage on both sides, inboard flaps the left horizontal stabiliser’s leading-edge, and some of the aircraft’s fairings. In addition, debris hit the left main landing-gear door and damaged a hydraulic brake pipe.
Sounds bad doesn’t it? All from unlatched cowling. Whilst it forced cancellation of 200 flights, scrubbing of the BA shorthaul programme until 16:00 that day, there is something important to remember: the skill of the Captain and First Officer brought that plane down on the tarmac safely, with the flight crew of three managing to evacuate 75 passengers safely away from the plane.
In its recommendations, the AAIB states:
“It is recommended that Airbus formally notifies operators of A320-family aircraft of the fan cowl door loss event on A319 G-EUOE on 24 May 2013, and reiterates the importance of verifying that the fan cowl doors are latched prior to flight by visually checking the position of the latches”.
The AAIB Intrim Report can be found at http://www.aaib.gov.uk/publications/special_bulletins/s3_2013___airbus_a319_131__g_euoe.cfm – and makes for interesting reading for those who have an interest – of any sort – in aviation safety.