British Airways plane hits Johannesburg airport office building

Wing of British Airways jet slices through offices while taxiing on wrong runway in Johannesburg

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 2:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 8:52am

A British Airways plane carrying 202 people has struck an office building at Johannesburg's international Airport with its wing while taxiing for take-off, injuring four.

The Boeing 747-400 en route to London's Heathrow Airport took a taxiway that was too narrow for it, South African Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman Phindiwe Gwebu said.

The airport is 30 kilometres east of Johannesburg. No passengers or crew were injured in Sunday night's incident.

"The crew was instructed to taxi towards taxiway B, but took taxiway M instead which is smaller," the authority said. "This resulted on the aircraft right-hand wing impacting on the office building behind SAA Technical hangers," it said, referring to South African Airways, the state-owned airline.

British Airways provided hotel accommodation for customers on board the plane and arranged alternative flights for them.

A fuel spillage from the plane was contained by the airport's fire services.

The plane was towed away and operations were not disrupted as a result of the incident.

BA plane crashes into building at J Burg airport. No one injured only the pilot’s pride

"BA plane crashes into building at J Burg airport," Harriet Tolputt, head of media for development charity Oxfam who was on board the plane, said on Twitter. "No one injured only the pilot's pride". She complained that first-class passengers were evacuated before the rest.

Tolputt posted a photo of the plane's wing slicing through a two-storey building adjacent to the taxiing lane.

The plane was taxiing when she heard a loud crash. She then watched as the plane hit the building.

Passenger John Hart told the BBC: "We were just taxiing along and then boom."

He said the captain described it as a "little incident", but everyone on the right-hand side of the plane could see what had really happened.

Three investigators from the civil aviation authority were on the scene to observe the recovery of the plane and the removal of its flight recorder. British Airways has started its own investigation into the incident.

O.R. Tambo is the continent's busiest airport, handling more than 18.6 million passengers and almost 200,000 aircraft movements a year.

Bloomberg, Reuters, Agence France-Presse