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Falling Door Leads To Close Call In UK

777 Hatch Landed Just 18 Feet From Couple On A Stroll

Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch says the door of a British Airways 777 wasn't properly fastened shut -- and that's why, back in June, 2003, the door fell off the aircraft just after it took off from London's Gatwick Airport.

The door, weighing 70 pounds or so, landed in Surrey, narrowly missing a couple out for a stroll.

Now, British Airways says it has reviewed its safety records and has made changes as a result of the near-miss.

Members of the cabin crew reported hearing a "thump and... a loud bang" after the door separated from the aircraft, according to the BBC. The AAIB found only one of the door's 13 latches had likely been fastened.

"The inadequate fastening had apparently occurred during a routine maintenance check due to a deviation from standard procedures; a practice that reportedly had been fostered by features of the maintenance system and may have been commonplace," according to the report, quoted by the BBC.

The door, according to the report, "was found when a couple who had been out walking described having seen it fall nearby after their attention had been drawn by another substantial part of the door impacting the ground around 20 feet from them."

The aircraft was able to land safely back at Gatwick.

BA said it has reviewed the report and has already made efforts to comply with the recommendations.

"We cooperated with the AAIB throughout the investigation and note the new safety recommendation contained in the report," British Airways said in a statement quoted by the BBC. "The safety and security of our operation is our top priority and we will study the report in detail to ensure that we learn from what was a very rare and unusual event."

FMI: www.aaib.gov.uk, www.britishairways.com


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