UK investigators have criticised maintenance practices at British Airways (BA) after probing a 2003 incident in which a Boeing 757-200 encountered roll-control problems, writes David Kaminski-Morrow.

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) reprimands the airline for ineffective supervision, poor standards of maintenance, and an inadequate safety culture. Soon after the 757 (G-CPER) departed London Heathrow for Paris on 7 September 2003, the crew diverted to Gatwick after smelling hot oil. During the approach, the twinjet tended to drift right of the localiser after flap deployment. The pilots used 40° of left-hand control wheel input, commanding 75% of aileron travel, to keep the wings level.

The aircraft was on its first flight following a 26-day maintenance check, and investigators determined that staff had serviced engine oils incorrectly and failed to reinstall two access panels on the right-hand outboard flap.

BA, which disputes some of the findings, says it has raised awareness of maintenance errors and discussed possible preventative action in open forums.

Source: Flight International