On January 17th, 2008, BA flight 38 approached landing at London Heathrow airport. During its final approach one of the engines stopped. Shortly after, the second engine stopped too. At the moment when the pilots needed to increase thrust for their final approach towards the runway, the huge flying metal object became a weight dropping from the sky. The plain crashed about 300 metres from the runway. Miraculously only 47 people were injured (the worst injury was a broken limb) and there were no fatalities. As in any flight incident, the crash was investigated, and possible reasons were eliminated one by one. Pilots fuel operation fault, shortage of fuel, fuel pipes blockage - all were overruled. Finally investigators had one last hypothesis: when flying over the arctic, a fairly new route at the time, fuel flow was blocked due to humidity in the fuel freezing into ice crystals. They had no proof, since by the time of the crash all ice was melted. But this was their best bet.
Although this is not the typical topic in a software team retrospective, the way airlines and aircraft makers handle incidents is indeed relevant for us.Add a comment