A ‘burning smell’ that filled the cabin on Wednesday night and apparently caused some of the crew to feel dizzy and disoriented caused a British Airways Airbus A380 to make a ‘precautionary’ emergency landing in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Just 45 minutes after departure, the midnight flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow made a priority return to Johannesburg, where it was met by airport fire trucks due to the ‘heavy’ landing caused by the amount of fuel still remaining.
The nine-year-old superjumbo was then forced to remain on the runway for an additional 40 minutes as airport staff inspected it before being pulled back to the gate and the passengers allowed to leave.
Some passengers on British Airways flight BA56 said that the crew informed them that the plane’s hydraulics needed to be repaired, forcing the return to Johannesburg.
However, according to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft experienced a “fume event” in which potentially hazardous vapors entered the cockpit and passenger compartment.
When oil or fuel vaporizes and is drawn into the air conditioning system of the aircraft through the ‘bleed air’ system, which takes air from the outside through the plane’s engines, fume events may result.
Onboard passenger, Harry Graham called the event a “horribly scary situation” that was made worse by the airline’s lack of communication. Another passenger, Lisa Edmunds, described the detour as a “frightening ordeal” and complained that British Airways had given conflicting information.
According to The Aviation Herald, some of the crew were sent to a nearby hospital for evaluation after the incident.
According to a British Airways spokeswoman, the decision to return to Johannesburg was made simply out of caution, and the plane arrived without incident.
The airline statement: “Our pilots returned to Johannesburg as a precaution due to a minor technical issue, and the aircraft landed normally”. “We have apologized to our customers for the disruption to their journey and our teams worked hard to get everyone on their way as planned.”
The last airplane to come out of deep storage from the pandemic era was the one that made the ‘precautionary’ landing on Wednesday night (registration: G-XLEH). The aircraft had been parked in Madrid during the pandemic up until last August when it was transported to Manila for extensive maintenance.