British Airways Boeing 777-300ER Suffers Bird Strikes In Nigeria

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Last week, a British Airways Boeing 777-300ER experienced a bird strike while landing in Lagos, Nigeria. The multiple impacts led to issues such as a hydraulic leak, causing smoke to emanate from the aircraft’s landing gear. However, the response from emergency services was said to have been rather slow.

British Airways, China, Medical Supplies
The bird strike involved one of the 14 examples of the Boeing 777-300ER in the British Airways fleet. Photo: Getty Images

The flight in question

British Airways flight BA75 is a scheduled service from its base at London Heathrow to Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Nigeria. The UK flag carrier operates this flight daily, with a planned departure of 11:05 local time. Arrival in Nigeria’s (and indeed Africa’s) most populous city is scheduled to occur just over six-and-a-half hours later, at 18:40 local time.

BA operates this flight using both the -200ER and -300ER variants of the Boeing 777. Fellow British carrier Virgin Atlantic provides competition on the route. The freight operations of Ethiopian Airlines Cargo also have a presence along this corridor.

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British Airways Boeing 777-300ER New York JFK
Despite the difficulties of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, British Airways is currently operating a daily flight from London Heathrow to Lagos. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

What happened?

FlightRadar24.com reports that, on December 30th, flight BA75 departed London over an hour late. Takeoff from Heathrow’s runway 27R occurred at 12:21 local time, some 86 minutes behind schedule. However, the flight was able to make up good time en route. Indeed, it touched down in Nigeria just half an hour late, at 19:10 local time, after five hours and 50 minutes in the air.

However, that isn’t to say that the flight was without incident. According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft experienced multiple bird strikes during its landing flare to Lagos’s longest runway, 18R. This resulted in a hydraulic leak. Fortunately, the crew was able to safely land the aircraft and vacate the runway as planned.

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Lagos Airport
The emergency response at Lagos was said to have been rather sluggish. Photo: Getty Images

However, while taxiing from the runway to its stand, the aircraft lost its nose wheel steering. An issue with the main landing gear also arose, with smoke emanating from it. Furthermore, the aircraft’s hydraulic C system indicated zero quantity. This meant that it was completely drained of its hydraulic fluid.

Following these issues, the crew elected to stop the aircraft on the taxiway, and declared PAN PAN over the radio. However, despite attempting to make contact multiple times, there was initially no response from the emergency services.

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Eventually, 11 minutes after landing, two firemen made their way over to the aircraft on foot with handheld extinguishers. They were followed five minutes later by a larger fire truck. It was then established that the smoke emanating from the landing gear had been caused by hydraulic fluid dripping onto the aircraft’s brakes. Having just landed, these had been very hot.

Lagos Airport Nigeria COVID-19
Although it is not Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos is of logistical significance due to its coastal location. Photo: Getty Images

The aircraft involved

The aircraft that experienced the bird strike was a Boeing 777-300ER, which bears the registration G-STBE. According to Planespotters.net, British Airways took delivery of this aircraft in December 2011. It is one of 14 777-300ERs in BA’s fleet, alongside 43 examples of the smaller -200ER variant. SeatGuru reports that the 777-300ER has a four-class configuration at British Airways. This consists of 14 First open suites, 56 Club World flatbeds, 44 World Traveller Plus seats, and 185 standard World Traveller seats.

Following temporary repairs to the aircraft, FlightRadar24.com reports that the aircraft departed Lagos for London the following morning at 05:03 local time. Touchdown at Heathrow occurred just over five hours late, at 09:59. G-STBE has yet to return to service following this flight.

What do you make of this incident? Have you ever been onboard an aircraft that has been involved in a bird strike? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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