B732, Manchester UK, 1985

Summary: 

On 22nd August 1985, a B737-200 being operated by British Airtours, a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Airways, suffered an uncontained engine failure, with consequent damage from ejected debris enabling the initiation of a fuel-fed fire which spread to the fuselage during the rejected take off and continued to be fuel-fed after the aircraft stopped, leading to rapid destruction of the aircraft before many of the occupants had evacuated.

Event Details
When: 
22/08/1985
Event Type: 
Day/Night: 
Day
Flight Conditions: 
On Ground - Normal Visibility

18936

Flight Details
Aircraft: 
Operator: 
Type of Flight: 
Public Transport (Passenger)
Intended Destination: 
Take-off Commenced: 
Yes
Flight Airborne: 
No
Flight Completed: 
No
Phase of Flight: 
Take Off
Location
Location - Airport
Airport: 
General
Tag(s): 
Inadequate Aircraft Operator Procedures, Inadequate Airport Procedures, Inadequate Airworthiness Procedures, Ineffective Regulatory Oversight
FIRE
Tag(s): 
Fire-Fuel origin, Fire-Power Plant origin
EPR
Tag(s): 
Emergency Evacuation, “Emergency” declaration, Slide Malfunction, RFFS Procedures
CS
Tag(s): 
Cabin furnishings fire, Evacuation slides deployed, Cabin air contamination, Flight Crew Evacuation Command
AW
System(s): 
Airframe, Communications, Equipment / Furnishings, Fire Protection, Emergency Evacuation
Contributor(s): 
OEM Design fault, Damage Tolerance, Component Fault in service, Corrosion/Disbonding/Fatigue
Outcome
Damage or injury: 
Yes
Aircraft damage: 
Hull loss
Non-aircraft damage: 
Yes
Non-occupant Casualties: 
No
Occupant Injuries: 
Many occupants
Occupant Fatalities: 
Many occupants
Off Airport Landing: 
Yes
Ditching: 
Yes
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s): 
Aircraft Technical
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s): 
Aircraft Operation, Aircraft Airworthiness, Airport Management
Investigation Type
Type: 
Independent

Description

On 22nd August 1985, a B737-200 operated by British Airtours, a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Airways, suffered an uncontained engine failure, with fire spreading to the fuselage during the rejected take off, causing rapid destruction of the aircraft before many of the occupants had evacuated.

Summary

About 30 seconds after the aircraft began its take-off roll, as the airspeed passed 125 kts, the left engine suffered an uncontained failure, which punctured a wing fuel tank access panel. Fuel leaking from the wing ignited and burnt as a large plume of fire trailing directly behind the engine. The crew heard a "thud" and, believing that they had suffered a burst tyre or bird strike, abandoned the take-off immediately, intending to clear the runway to the right. They had no indication of fire until 9 seconds later, when the left engine fire warning occurred. After an exchange with ATC, during which the fire was confirmed, the commander warned his crew of an evacuation from the right side of the aircraft, by making a broadcast on the cabin address system, and brought the aircraft to a halt.

The wind carried the fire onto and around the rear fuselage. After the aircraft was stopped, the hull was penetrated rapidly and smoke, possibly with some flame transients, entered the cabin through the aft rear door which was opened shortly before the aircraft came to a halt. Subsequently fire developed within the cabin. Despite prompt attendance of the airport fire service, the aircraft was destroyed and 55 persons on board lost their lives.

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