Incident Boeing 747-236B G-BDXK, Saturday 2 November 1996
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Date:Saturday 2 November 1996
Type:Silhouette image of generic B742 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 747-236B
Owner/operator:British Airways
Registration: G-BDXK
MSN: 22303/495
Year of manufacture:1981
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 324
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Minor
Location:London Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK) -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:London Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK)
Destination airport:Newark International Airport, Newark, New Jersey (EWR/KEWR)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Boeing 747-236B G-BDXK, British Airways: In flight incident 2 November 1996 when No.4 port door began to open in flight shortly after take off. The summary of the AAIB Report into the incident was published on 10 December 2014, and the following is an excerpt from it:

"When the crew checked in for the flight on the evening of 2 November 1996, they were informed that there was a problem with door 4L, but that the engineers were confident that the aircraft would be declared fit for service at or near the scheduled departure time. This proved to be the case and the flight engineer checked the door for satisfactory operation.

However, due to a recent history of problems with this door, the cabin crew responsible for it were briefed to monitor it after take-off and keep theflight deck informed of anything untoward.

Immediately after take-off, the door handle was seen to rotate from its normally closed 3 o'clock position to 1 o'clock. Two cabin crew immediately attended the door but experienced difficulty in keeping the handle in the closed position. The flight crew were informed, and upon completion of the "after take-off"checklist items, the flight engineer went aft to the door, and confirmed that a considerable amount of force was required tohold the handle in position. He noted that as soon as pressure was relaxed, the handle started to move towards the open position.

In addition, there was a loud noise of rushing air, which was apparent at the top and bottom of the door, as opposed to the sides. Two cabin crew were instructed to keep pressure applied to the handle. The flight engineer became concerned, not only for the integrity of the door, but also about possible implications for the pressurisation of the aircraft.

He therefore called the engineers at Gatwick and discussed the problem with them. They suggested letting go of the handle to see where it would stop. The flight crew declined to do this, and, after further discussion, elected to return to Gatwick. During this time, the aircraft had climbed to 21,000 ft to allow it to enter French airspace. The captain had reassured the cabin crew that the door, being a "plug" type, could not come open. However, the cabin crew were understandably becoming increasingly alarmed, and thiswas instrumental in the decision to return.

The aircraft dumped 46 tonnes of fuel and carried out an uneventful approach and landing. During the latter stages of the flight, the cabin crew looped together some extension seatbelts in an attempt to secure the door handle in the closed position.

On arrival back at Gatwick on 2 November, the aircraft was removed from service for investigation. Following removal of trim components,the aircraft was pressurised in an attempt to reproduce the defect. At 0.6 psi it was found that the door handle moved towards the unlock position. After comparison with another door, the engineers discovered that the upper torque tube that had been installed on 26 October had been drilled such that there was an incorrect angular relationship between two sets of holes.

Each latch rollercrank is retained in the end of the torque tube by a pair of bolts,one at 90° to the other, located across the tube diameter. Another pair of holes is drilled in the centre of the tube for the purpose of attaching the operating bellcrank. A tooling hole is drilled at either end of the tube, inboard of the latch crankbolt holes. When the replacement torque tube was compared with the failed one, it was found that the axes of the bellcrank boltholes had been drilled with approximately 18° of circumferential displacement from their correct position. As a result it would have been impossible to rig the door correctly, although the angular error could be largely compensated by extreme adjustment of the control rods attaching to the torque tube"


1. AAIB Final Report:

History of this aircraft

Other occurrences involving this aircraft

26 February 1987 G-BDXK British Airways 0 Los Angeles, CA non

Revision history:

27-Jan-2021 03:20 Dr. John Smith Added
27-Jan-2021 03:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
27-Jan-2021 03:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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