British Airways Flight 5390 – Wikipedia

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1990 aviation incident

British Airways Flight 5390 was a flight from Birmingham Airport in England for Málaga Airport in Spain that suffered explosive decompression, with no lack of life, shortly after takeoff on 10 June 1990. An improperly put in windscreen panel separated from its body, inflicting the aircraft’s captain to be blown partially out of the plane. With the captain pinned in opposition to the window body for twenty minutes, the primary officer landed at Southampton Airport.[1]

Plane and crew[edit]

The County of South Glamorgan was a BAC One-Eleven Sequence 528FL jet airliner, registered as G-BJRT.[2] The plane first flew on Eight February 1971, and was delivered to Bavaria Fluggesellschaft on 26 February 1971. It was later transferred to Bavaria Germanair in 1977, Hapag-Lloyd Flug in 1979, British Caledonian in 1981, and eventually to British Airways in 1988.[3] The captain was 42-year-old Timothy (Tim) Lancaster, who had logged 11,050 flight hours, together with 1,075 hours on the BAC One-eleven; the copilot was 39-year-old Alastair Atchison, with 7,500 flight hours, with 1,100 of them on the BAC One-eleven.[4] The plane additionally carried 4 cabin crew and 81 passengers.


Atchison dealt with a routine take-off at 08:20 native time (07:20 UTC) then handed management to Lancaster because the aircraft continued to climb. Each pilots launched their shoulder harnesses and Lancaster loosened his lap belt. At 08:33 (07:33 UTC) the aircraft had climbed via about 17,300 ft (5,300 m)[4]:3 over Didcot, Oxfordshire, and the cabin crew had been making ready for meal service.

Air Steward Nigel Ogden was getting into the cockpit when there was a loud bang[5] and the cabin shortly stuffed with condensation. The left windscreen panel, on Lancaster’s facet of the flight deck, had separated from the ahead fuselage; Lancaster was propelled out of his seat by the dashing air from the decompression and compelled head first out of the flight deck. His knees had been caught on the flight controls and his higher torso remained outdoors the plane, uncovered to excessive wind and chilly. The autopilot had disengaged, inflicting the aircraft to descend quickly.[5] The flight deck door was blown inward onto the management console, blocking the throttle management (inflicting the plane to realize velocity because it descended) and papers and particles blew into the flight deck from the passenger cabin. Ogden rushed to seize Lancaster’s belt, whereas the opposite two air stewards secured unfastened objects, reassured passengers, and instructed them to undertake brace positions in anticipation of an emergency touchdown.

The aircraft was not geared up with oxygen for everybody on board, so Atchison started a speedy emergency descent to succeed in an altitude with enough air strain. He then re-engaged the autopilot and broadcast a misery name, however he was unable to listen to the response from air site visitors management due to wind noise; the problem in establishing two-way communication led to a delay in initiation of emergency procedures.
Ogden, nonetheless holding on to Lancaster, was by now creating frostbite and exhaustion, so chief steward John Heward and air steward Simon Rogers took over the duty of holding on to the captain.[6] By this time Lancaster had shifted a number of inches farther outdoors and his head was repeatedly placing the facet of the fuselage. The crew believed him to be useless, however Atchison advised the others to proceed holding onto him, out of worry that letting go of him would possibly trigger him to strike the left wing, engine, or horizontal stabiliser, probably damaging it.

Ultimately, Atchison was in a position to hear the clearance from air site visitors management to make an emergency touchdown at Southampton Airport. The air stewards managed to free Lancaster’s ankles from the flight controls whereas nonetheless retaining maintain of him. At 08:55 native time (07:55 UTC), the plane landed at Southampton and the passengers disembarked utilizing boarding steps.

Lancaster survived with frostbite, bruising, shock, and fractures to his proper arm, left thumb and proper wrist.[5][7] Ogden dislocated his shoulder and had frostbite on his face, with injury to at least one eye. There have been no different main accidents.[7]


Police discovered the windscreen panel and lots of the 90 bolts securing it close to Cholsey, Oxfordshire.[4]:12 Investigators discovered that when the windscreen was put in 27 hours earlier than the flight, 84 of the bolts used had been 0.026 inches (0.66 mm) too small in diameter (British Requirements A211-8C vs A211-8D, that are #8-32 vs #10-32 by the Unified Thread Normal) and the remaining six had been A211-7D, which is the right diameter however 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) too brief (0.7 inch vs. 0.Eight inch).[4]:52 The earlier windscreen had additionally been fitted utilizing incorrect bolts, which had been changed by the shift upkeep supervisor on a like-for-like foundation regardless of upkeep documentation, because the aircraft was on account of depart shortly.[4]:38 The undersized bolts had been unable to face up to the air strain distinction between the cabin and the surface environment throughout flight.
(The windscreen was not of the “plug” kind – fitted from the within in order that cabin strain helps to carry it in place – however of the sort fitted from the surface in order that cabin strain tends to dislodge it.)[4]:7

Investigators discovered that the shift upkeep supervisor liable for putting in the inaccurate bolts had did not comply with British Airways insurance policies. They really useful that the CAA recognise the necessity for plane engineering personnel to put on corrective glasses if prescribed. In addition they faulted the insurance policies themselves, which ought to have required testing or verification by one other particular person for this vital process. Lastly, they discovered the native Birmingham Airport administration liable for indirectly monitoring the shift upkeep supervisor’s working practices.[4]:55

First Officer Alastair Stuart Atchison and cabin crew members Susan Gibbins and Nigel Ogden had been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Useful Service within the Air; Ogden’s identify was erroneously missed from the revealed complement.[8] Atchison was awarded a 1992 Polaris Award for his means and heroism.


The plane was repaired and returned to service, ultimately being bought to Jaro Worldwide in 1993. It continued to function with them till Jaro ceased operations in 2001, the plane occurring to be scrapped the identical 12 months.[3]

Tim Lancaster returned to work after lower than 5 months. He retired from British Airways in 2003 and flew with EasyJet till he retired from business piloting in 2008.[5][7]

Alastair Atchison retired from British Airways shortly after the incident and joined and remained flying till he made his final business flight on a Boeing 737-33A (registration: G-CELE) from Alicante to Manchester on his 65th birthday on 28 June 2015.[5]

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