Eric had to peer through the outer edge of the left-hand front window, which was still clear, and he could just make out the lights on the left of the runway. The landing was smooth, and was accompanied by loud cheers from crew and passengers. BA flight 009 had landed safely.
But what had caused such a major fault? The first clue came as they waited for the steps to be brought to the aircraft. Barry Townley-Freeman saw his hands and clothes covered in a fine black dust. Volcanic ash! And what a sight greeted them as they left the aircraft - they found all the leading edges, engine nacelles and nose cone stripped of paint as if the aircraft had been sandblasted.
The explanation for the engine failures was that they had flown into a dust cloud caused by a volcanic eruption from Mount Galunggung, which is situated about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta. The engines had been worst affected, the turbine blades suffering the most damage, with the tips
ground away at the high speed of the aircraft.
In October 1984, the International Civil
Aviation Authority issued a special report on the
dangers of volcanic ash to aircraft, adding that
Flight 009's drama was the ninth eruption of
Mount Galunggung that year
With acknowledgement to an article in Log, the British Airline
Pilots Association magazine, April 1986.
Web site created by Mark Griffin