3501 N. Lakewood Blvd., Ste. B

Long Beach, CA. 90808 
Office (562) 497-9000
Fax    (562) 497-9005


CFM Aviation Insurance Brokers, Inc. 

© All Rights Reserved.

3501 N. Lakewood Blvd., Ste. B

Long Beach, CA. 90808

4 Miles Over Britain Pilot Is Sucked Out; Crew Holds On Tight
By SHEILA RULE, Special to The New York Times
Published: June 11, 1990

LONDON, June 10— The pilot of a passenger plane was partly sucked out of the cabin window onto the nose cone of the jet today after its windshield blew out at 23,000 feet. But he was saved by crew members who clung to his ankles for 15 minutes until the co-pilot landed the plane safely in southern England.

Several of the aircraft's 81 passengers said they watched in horror as crew members frantically wrestled to pull Capt. Timothy Lancaster back into the cockpit. The plane went into a dive, but with half of Mr. Lancaster's body hanging outside the co-pilot flew the aircraft to Southampton Airport, 70 miles southwest of London.

The Civil Aviation Authority immediately announced an investigation into the episode, which police said began 20 minutes into British Airways Flight 5390 from Birmingham, England, to Malaga in Spain.

Captain Lancaster, 41 years old and a pilot for 21 years, was taken to Southampton General Hospital suffering from shock, a fractured elbow, wrist and thumb, and frostbite on one hand. The police said that all the crew members were taken to the hospital and that four passengers were treated for shock. Everyone except the captain was later released.

Another plane was sent to Southampton to take the passengers to Malaga. All except seven continued their journey.

Passengers said the aircraft, a BAC-111, was gaining altitude over southern England when they heard an explosion as the cabin window blew out. The windshield was later found in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

''I could see a body hanging out of the window, with two men and a woman hanging onto his legs,'' a passenger, Margaret Simmonds, told the Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency. ''They were trying to stop him being sucked out.''

Chris Opie, another passenger, told the agency: ''There seemed to be some smoke immediately after the bang and suddenly there was sheer panic. An air hostess standing near us at the back of the plane started to cry. I thought we were going to crash and began praying. My girlfriend, Nichola, who was sitting next to me, was crying and hugging our son, James.

''Then one of the men on the flight deck came onto the loudspeaker announcement radio and said the windscreen had blown out and warned us to prepare for an emergency landing.''

The air pressure dropped dramatically and the sudden decompression sucked Captain Lancaster out of his seatbelt and into the hole left by the windscreen, which the Press Association said had been replaced on Friday in a routine maintenance check. His clothes were ripped from his body by the slipstream, the police said.

The co-pilot, Alistair Atcheson, 39 years old, put on an oxygen mask and flew the plane as a steward, Nigel Ogden, who was also on the flight deck, grabbed the captain's legs and clung to a chair. Another steward, Simon Rogers, rushed onto the flight deck, strapped himself into the pilot's seat and relieved Mr. Ogden, who gashed his hand trying to save the captain.

Helped by other crew members, Mr. Rogers clung to the captain until the aircraft landed. Other crew members calmed passengers and told them to fasten their seatbelts.

'Tremendous' Crew

Seconds after the 18-year-old plane taxied to a halt, passengers left the aircraft by emergency chutes while firemen worked from outside and pulled the captain clear. As the plane stood on the tarmac, bloodstains could reportedly be seen in the cockpit and pieces of clothing flapped from the window.

A British Airways spokesman said that Mr. Lancaster owed his life to quick thinking by the crew.

''The crew were tremendous,'' the spokesman, Anthony Cocklin, said. ''We have nothing but praise for them. It was a tremendous example of alertness and we are very proud of them.''

A spokesman for the British Air Line Pilots' Association told the Press Association that the incident was ''a freak occurrence which will not unduly worry cockpit crews.''

The spokesman, Freddy Yetman, the association's technical secretary. said that aircraft windshields contained tremendously strong, toughened glass. He said he did not think there would need to be a complete re-examination of windscreens.

'A Freaky Thing'

''The BAC 111 is one of the strongest aircraft in existence,'' Mr. Yetman said. ''It is tremendously robust. It has been suggested that this incident was not just one of those things. But I disagree. It was a freaky thing and I don't think there will be undue concern from pilots.''

Photo: Nigel Ogden, a British Airways steward, injured his hand during a struggle to pull Capt. Timothy Lancaster back into the cockpit. (Associated Press) (pg. A5)Type your paragraph here.

Check out our Facebook Page