South African CAA to probe BA 747 building strike

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South African authorities have opened an investigation following the accident at Johannesburg during which a British Airways Boeing 747-400 struck and severely damaged a building while taxiing.

A section of the starboard wing, outboard of the engines, carved through an upper floor of the building for several metres before the aircraft came to a halt.

"We have launched a full investigation into the incident and are giving our assistance to the independent South African Civil Aviation Authority with the matter," says BA, adding that none of the 182 passengers was injured.

The aircraft (G-BNLL) had been preparing to operate the BA34 return service to London Heathrow at around 22:30 on 22 December.

Meteorological data from the airport shows clear weather conditions at the time. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the aircraft was taxiing for runway 03L.

Johannesburg's airport ground-movement chart specifically warns crews to "exercise caution" while taxiing to the threshold of 03L south along taxiway B.

Crews following this route must turn to the left to follow the correct taxiway, because continuing straight ahead would take the aircraft along the narrow apron taxi lane M.

Ironically the same BA 747 damaged its left-hand wing-tip in a ground collision with a Sri Lankan Airlines Airbus A340 at Heathrow in October 2007.