Serious incident Airbus A320-232 G-EUYB, Monday 23 September 2019
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Date:Monday 23 September 2019
Time:c. 06:43 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic A320 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Airbus A320-232
Owner/operator:British Airways
Registration: G-EUYB
MSN: 3703
Year of manufacture:2008
Engine model:International Aero Engine V2527-A5
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 147
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: None
Category:Serious incident
Location:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL) -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Zürich-Kloten Airport (ZRH/LSZH)
Destination airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL)
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
British Airways flight BA709, an Airbus A320, was involved in a fumes incident during a flight from Zürich, Switzerland to London-Heathrow Airport, U.K.

The initial departure from Zurich was uneventful. However, shortly after passing through FL100 the flight crew detected a slight odour on the flight deck. After 30 seconds the smell had gone. The crew discussed further options and agreed to continue the flight.

Having intercepted the ILS at London-Heathrow Airport, as the aircraft passed through 4,000 ft both flight crew detected a sudden, very strong smell. The commander described it as a “manure smell”; “like a field which had just been muck spread”. He described the smell instantly “hitting him” in the back of the throat. There was no smoke and no obvious source of the smell. The co-pilot described it as a “strong sweaty socks” smell. He reported feeling itchy skin around his eyes and a scratchy throat. The commander took control and instructed the co-pilot to put on his oxygen mask. Once the co-pilot was on oxygen and communication was re-established the co-pilot took control whilst the commander donned his oxygen mask.

The commander requested an early hand-over from the approach controller to the tower controller, which was granted. He then made a PAN call to Heathrow Tower; he reported that they had fumes on the flight deck and required a priority landing. The flight crew then selected the landing gear down and landing flap then decelerated to the final approach speed. ATC advised the two aircraft ahead of G-EUYB and one behind to expect a go‑around and then instructed them to go-around in sequence. The flight crew discussed options and agreed the safest course of action was to continue the approach. The aircraft was stable at 1,000 ft agl. The commander elected to use Autoland. He advised ATC that they would vacate onto the parallel taxiway where they would require an inspection from the emergency services. The aircraft landed at 06:44 hrs, vacated the runway at N6 and stopped on Taxiway A.

After shutting down on a taxiway and removing their masks, the co-pilot became incapacitated and the commander felt unwell; both pilots were taken to hospital but released later that day.

AAIB Conclusion
While it has not been possible to positively identify the compound that was responsible for the fumes and odours experienced in G-EUYB, or any of the other recent events, a number of common factors have been identified. The majority of events occurred after the aircraft had been parked or operated in precipitation. The fumes become apparent during the later stages of the descent, sometimes preceded by a minor event during the climb phase. The generation of fumes appears to be transient; they dissipate rapidly and leave no detectable trace. No link between changes to engine power or changes in other system settings and the generation of fumes was identified.

In some cases, the presence of fumes has resulted in physiological reactions which have interfered with a flight crew member’s ability to carry out their normal duties. However, by following the smoke and fume checklist, and donning oxygen masks the flight crew were able to ensure the continued safety of the aircraft.

The aircraft resumed service on September 26, 2019.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: AAIB-26125
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 10 months
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB Final Report:

History of this aircraft

Other occurrences involving this aircraft

5 December 2012 G-EUYB British Airways 0 Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN/ESSA) min
Collision with Ground support equipment


Revision history:

07-Oct-2019 16:14 harro Added
07-Oct-2019 16:15 harro Updated [Location, Source]
30-Jul-2020 11:19 harro Updated [Total occupants, Narrative, Accident report, ]
02-Aug-2020 20:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Embed code]
11-Sep-2020 15:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
17-Oct-2020 00:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative, Accident report]
22-Oct-2020 17:33 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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