UK-headquartered airline, British Airways, found itself in yet another predicament as a BA flight bound to the United States suspiciously hovered over the Midlands region for over two hours.
The British Airways Boeing 747 flight BA289 was carrying 345 travellers at the time of the incident and headed towards Phoenix, Arizona from London Heathrow Airport. According to airport authorities, the flight had departed from London Heathrow at the scheduled time, on September 29th 2019. But what seemed like a normal take-off was anything but that.
Based on eyewitness reports, BA289 flew over the Midlands area, specifically Stoke-on-Trent in North Staffordshire. The flight was at an estimated 9000 feet and was flying in circles. Based on local newspaper reports, the jumbo jet was seen making U-turns on top of the Peak District, retracing its strange, circular route for more than two hours. Apart from the Peak District, the flight was observed flying multiple times over Blythe Bride as well.
Minute-by-minute updates storm social media
The sight of the strange, loopy orbit of the Boeing BA289 had the staff at British Airways extremely concerned. The company kept a close watch on the path of the flight after reports of its erroneous route reached them through eye witness accounts.
According to the airline carrier’s statements, the flight was found flying over Birmingham at 5:28 PM. Almost immediately after this, Air Traffic Control received a message from the BA289 pilot that the plane wanted to make an emergency, unscheduled landing.
At 5:46 PM, the flight was seen near London Heathrow but did not seem to be anywhere close to the runway. Finally, around 6:00 PM, ATC confirmed that the BA289 flight to Phoenix was almost ready to land. After an agonising 140+ minutes, the 345 passengers and the BA crew were safely on the ground, back at London Heathrow.
Eyewitnesses report the flight was flying too fast for low altitude
As soon as news of the sudden landing was reported, news outlets across Birmingham received information from people who had seen the flight prior to touchdown.
One of the theories proposed by witnesses was “pressurisation”, while another was “fuel burning/dumping”. When contacted by the local press for an explanation, British Airways representatives issued a statement that an inquiry had been launched and the reason would be ascertained. According to the report, the airline carrier had dispatched a team of highly-trained engineers and safety experts to find out what happened.
The mystery is solved
A few days after the incident, British Airways announced that the reason for flight BA289’s mysterious movements was due to an unanticipated technical glitch in the aeroplane’s systems. Company insiders revealed that the Boeing jet was now being serviced and evaluated for safety.
British Airways confirmed that although the issue was minor, they were taking passenger safety very seriously. The carrier also mentioned that the jumbo jet would not be allowed back in the skies before a full-fledged investigation.
When asked why then an “emergency” was declared at the ATC, British Airways confirmed that there was no emergency announced by the pilots prior to landing.