Report: Ice buildup caused 777 crash landing

Report: Ice buildup caused 777 crash landing
A Thursday Jan. 17, 2008 file photo showing an escape chute that was deployed from the British Airways Boeing 777 plane that landed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport.
LONDON (AP) — A buildup of ice in the fuel lines of a Boeing 777 caused its crash landing at London's Heathrow Airport two years ago, an accident investigation concluded Tuesday.

Investigators had suspected that water usually present in aircraft fuel froze into sticky ice that choked off the engines. That was confirmed in Tuesday's final report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which said the problem was not covered by safety requirements because it was "unrecognized at that time."

U.S. and European regulators moved to impose modifications to the engines of some jets after the British Airways plane carrying 136 passengers from Beijing to London came down 330 meters (1,080 feet) short of the runway on Jan. 17, 2008.

Only one person was seriously injured, and the crew was praised for bringing the plane down without loss of life.

Pilot Peter Burkill said he feared the plane would crash into a heavily built-up service area near the airport.

"In my head I had calculated everyone (aboard the plane) to have died," he told the BBC in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

The plane was landed by co-pilot John Coward while Burkill raised the landing flaps. The report said that move gave the plane enough altitude to clear the airport's perimeter fence before crashing.

"We were now in an aircraft that was sliding along the ground, uncontrollable. I did think it might be my time to die," Burkill said.

BA said it and other operators had made modifications and introduced new safety checks for Boeing 777s powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines in response to earlier reports by accident investigators.