You may recall a London-bound Boeing 777-200 operated by British Airways caught fire on the ground at a Las Vegas airport in September, the pilot (who was on the verge of a long and happy retirement) piloting his penultimate flight as a Captain, and handled a textbook evacuation of the passengers and crew on board.

So what happened to the aircraft?
Was it an insurance  'write off' destined for recycling?  

Most commentators assumed the jet would never fly again. The fuselage was engulfed in flames and acrid smoke as passengers slid down emergency chutes, and some stupidly refused to leave without their cabin baggage, essentially holding up the emergency evacuation.

However pictures  have emerged on Twitter of the aircraft being patched up at McCarran International Airport, some two miles from the Las Vegas Strip. And BA confirmed it is to be put back into service following the completion of "stringent checks".

A faulty American made General Electric [GE] GE90-85B jet engine which caused the blaze has been 'swapped out'  by GE and replaced.

A statement rushed out said: "The airframe was inspected by a team of highly experienced engineers from Boeing who concluded that the damage was limited and suitable for repair.  A team from Boeing is carrying out the repair work, which will be certified to the same high standards as if the aircraft was brand new."


Julian Bray aviation expert writes: Within aviation circles it was always thought that as the damage was confined to one specific area, the aircraft would be patched up, re-certificated and and possibly sold on, for say cargo operations.  I've flown on aircraft that had been patched up, and put back into service, one in particular, (British Caledonian) lost its entire tail section, which was recovered and temporarily re-attached, then flown back from Africa to the UK for repairs..  

The assertion by BA this particular aircraft would return to passenger operation is however unusual as with acrid smoke contamination the smoke residue leaves a tar like residue on all services and in many highly inaccessible compartments and cable ducting, simply the smell will never be totally eliminated unless the entire aircraft is taken apart.  

During the November incident the Boeing triple 7 was about to ake off for a 10-hour flight to London Gatwick when the captain applied braking as fire alarms went off and flames emerged fropmn a failed engine.  157 passengers, 10 crew and three pilots were on board and  evacuated down emergency slides.

BA captain Chris Henkey, from Reading, Berkshire, had completed 42 years flying with BA and was on his penultimate flight before retirement. He said after the incident that he was "unlikely" to make his final flight, as a Captain but he made his last flight 'as a passenger' with his Partner on a holiday flight with BA.