Wrong-Size Bolts in Airplane Windscreen Blowout
LONDON (AP) _ Wrong-size bolts were fitted to a jetliner windshield that blew out in flight, sucking the pilot halfway out the cockpit, government officials said Tuesday.
British Airways said a maintenance engineer involved in the installation was suspended, as standard procedure during inquiries.
Cabin staff saved pilot Tim Lancaster, 41, on Sunday, clutching his ankles as he was bounced against the nose cone for 15 minutes over England until the co-pilot of the twin-engine BAC 1-11 made an emergency landing at Southampton.
An interim report from the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Branch said the diameter of 84 of the 90 bolts was too small for the captive nuts into which they fitted to hold the windshield in place.
Lancaster suffered broken bones, bruises and frostbite but Southampton General Hospital said it expected to discharge him Wednesday.
Investigators said the blowout occurred as the 18-year-old aircraft was climbing from Birmingham airport at 17,000 feet carrying six crew and 81 passengers bound from Birmingham to Malaga, Spain.
The 2-by-3-foot windshield was found on the ground.
Investigators were trying to find out if the bolts were wrongly manufactured or incorrectly packaged when delivered or if the airline’s own engineers selected the wrong bolts.
They said the windshield was fitted during routine maintenance the day before the incident, not two days, and the plane was at 17,000 feet when the blowout took place, not 23,000 feet - as earlier reported.
British Airways was checking out all its 34 BAC 1-11s.