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22 February 2024

Heathrow back to normal after jet's crash-landing

By Agencies

London's Heathrow airport resumed normal operations on Saturday, following dramatic scenes two days ago when a British Airways plane carrying 152 people was forced to crash land after losing power.

"All operations are returning today [Saturday], with all terminals returning to normal," said a spokeswoman for airports operator BAA. "There are no temporary marquees up, all passengers can resume normal procedures for checking in."

British Airways added that the airline has fully restored its long-haul flights schedule at Heathrow, while 95 per cent of short-haul flights were running as normal.

Meanwhile, the British press Saturday toasted BA co-pilot John Coward, who had been at the controls when the engines failed on the Boeing 777, and steered the plane into a safe crash-landing.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew on flight BA038 from Beijing escaped without serious injury.

BA pilot Captain Peter Burkill had revealed his co-pilot's crucial role at a Heathrow press conference before the weekend.

"COWARD IS A HERO," read the headline on Saturday in The Sun, which is Britain's biggest selling tabloid newspaper. "He may be a real Coward... but he did a brilliant job," the paper said.

"Coward ... had to nurse the stricken plane for almost a minute over the rooftops as he glided towards the runway," reported the Daily Mirror tabloid, adding that he was a "Coward in name only."

In an initial report on the incident, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Friday that the engine failed to respond at about 600 feet (180 metres) and two miles (three kilometres) from touch down.

Investigators are still probing the cause of the malfunction.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh said that he was "very proud" of the crew's actions, and said the airline would cooperate fully with the probe.

Eighteen people received treatment for minor injuries following the crash, which caused major disruption at one of the world's busiest airports.

Heathrow has struggled with cancellations and delays in the aftermath of the incident.

The near-disaster happened on Thursday shortly before Prime Minister Gordon Brown was due to take off for China on an official visit. His flight was briefly held up.  (