On 8 September 2015 a British Airways Boeing 777-200ER (G-VIIO) caught fire during take-off from Las Vegas Airport, prompting an aborted take-off and the evacuation of all passengers and crew. The aircraft, operating BA flight 2276 to London Gatwick Airport, had 157 passengers and 13 crew members on board. It had suffered an uncontained engine failure in the left GE90 engine. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) now released pictures of the damage.
During a group debriefing by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, the flight attendants stated that some passengers evacuated with carry-on baggage; however, the flight attendants thought that carry-on baggage retrieval did not slow the evacuation. They thought that most passengers who retrieved baggage did so after the airplane came to a stop and before the evacuation was commanded and that the flight attendants’ assertive commands limited further retrieval. The flight attendants at the two most-used exits (doors 1R and 4L) recalled seeing very little baggage at their exits, and neither cited carry-on baggage as a problem. However, the NTSB notes that the accident airplane was only 55% full.
Although not a factor in this evacuation, the NTSB remains concerned about the safety issues resulting from passengers evacuating with carry-on baggage, which could potentially slow the egress of passengers and block an exit during an emergency. The NTSB previously addressed carry-on baggage in a June 2000 safety study on evacuations of commercial airplanes and issued Safety Recommendation A-18-9 in February 2018 as part of its final report on the American Airlines flight 383 investigation.
Probable Cause and Findings
The NTSB determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The failure of the left engine high-pressure compressor (HPC) stage 8-10 spool, which caused the main fuel supply line to become detached from the engine main fuel pump and release fuel, resulting in a fire on the left side of the airplane. The HPC stage 8-10 spool failed due to a sustained-peak low-cycle fatigue crack that initiated in the web of the stage 8 disk; the cause of the crack initiation could not be identified by physical inspection and stress and lifing analysis. Contributing to this accident was the lack of inspection procedures for the stage 8 disk web.
Hours after the incident British Airways issued a statement:
The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority and we are looking after those who were on board the BA2276 from Las Vegas to London Gatwick following an incident on Tuesday September 8, 2015.
The aircraft, a 777-200 experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport.
157 customers were on board the flight, along with three pilots and 10 cabin crew. A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to hospital.
All customers have been provided with hotel accommodation, and our colleagues are helping them with anything further they require.