British Airways A321 at Valencia on Aug 5th 2019, smoke on board

Last Update: September 10, 2019 / 17:50:10 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Aug 5, 2019


Flight number

Valencia, Spain

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

A British Airways Airbus A321-200, registration G-MEDN performing flight BA-422 from London Heathrow,EN (UK) to Valencia,SP (Spain) with 175 passengers and 8 crew, was descending towards Valencia when white/grey smoke appeared in the cabin. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on Valencia's runway 12, vacated the runway onto high speed turn off H4 and stopped after crossing the hold short line. The aircraft was evacuated via slides. Three people were taken to a hospital.

Passengers reported smoke appeared about 10 minutes prior to landing associated with a horrible smell, the aircraft was evacuated after landing.

The airline reported the aircraft was involved in an incident, the aircraft has landed, passengers and crew have disembarked, British Airways teams are assisting the passengers.

A replacement Airbus A321-200 registration G-EUXF positioned from London Heathrow to Valencia carrying engineering and support staff to examine and repair G-MEDN. G-EUXF subsequently resumed the previous day's flight BA-445 and reached London Heathrow with a delay of about 18.5 hours.

On Sep 4th 2019 the NTSB reported they have appointed an accredited representative as state of menufacture of the engines in order to assist the investigation by Spain's CIAIAC. The NTSB was told that during landing smoke filled the cabin, the source of the smoke was suspected to be one of the engines (V2533).

On Sep 8th 2019 a letter by passenger Gayle was sent to The Aviation Herald describing the events and the aftermath. We quote the letter:

A bit of background to this.....

This event, as most of you know happened on 5 August this year. So just under five weeks ago. BA are trying to fob passengers off with vague lines of "still investigating" and hoping we will forget what happened. Zero customer care. Even less compassion.

Stephen and I were two of 175 passengers on BA422 flying from London Heathrow to Valencia. 1 hour 55 minutes flying time.

During the last ten minutes of flight there was a large bang noise, and then white smoke and fumes started pouring thickly in to the cabin. It was like being in a club, standing on the dance floor when a smoke machine starts pouring out for atmosphere. Except this was on a plane, which was still flying. We couldn't see two seats in front of us. The cabin crew stopped communicating with passengers from there on in....yes, we had no further communication from them in the most critical of circumstances.

The plane very suddenly started an extremely sharp descent. Cabin crew then donned chemical suits and masks. No oxygen masks came down for passengers. We now know this was because in the event of a fire the deployment of oxygen masks would increase the risk of a mid air explosion. This was not explained to passengers who became confused and scared understandably. It was completely surreal.

We were relieved when we landed and desperate to get off the plane, but for a further 10 minutes, while the plane cabin was thick with smoke (see video) we were confined as cabin crew couldn't open the doors for whatever reason. We could hear the sound of several fire engines outside the plane. Panic was begining to set in. Lots of families on board trying to keep their children calm, despite their own obvious concern and fear.

When the doors were eventually opened, we were directed by the hands (not voices) of cabin crew to jump down the emergency chutes. Some passengers (only a handful) insisted on taking their hand luggage(!!) Most didn't. Everyone was grateful to get off the plane and breath actual air. Many were crying, disoriented, some nervously laughing, some screaming in terror, and wandering aimlessly in a state of shock.

On the runway, Spanish groundcrew then directed passengers to areas far from the plane. It was clear there was concern it could still explode.

After a period of time elapsed, maybe ten or twenty minutes, buses arrived to take bewildered passengers to the terminal.

Would you believe that after that experience passengers were put through passport control? Again, completely surreal. I cannot overuse surreal enough.

Thereafter passengers were left without communication for nearly four hours....most just sitting around waiting for any communication...and not only about the retrieval of their hand luggage, but hold luggage.

Despite the fact that passengers had been subject to severe levels of thick toxic, white smoke and fumes we received no medical checks or even a bottle of water on arrival or for the hours after....meanwhile British Airways put out a media statement saying they were supporting passengers on the ground. This was a blatant and disgustingly cynical corporate lie.

We know the following facts now, and not directly from BA who say they are "still investigating" ...

1. Our pilot landed the plane "blind" as a consequence of the cockpit being completely consumed with the thick white smoke that filled the plane cabin

2. Valencia airport was advised to close the airport ahead of our plane coming in

3. Staff in the airport reported that they had been told our plane was on fire and emergency services deployed

4. The same plane had been grounded twice in June for toxic fume incidents

5. A captain refused to fly our plane in the months preceding due to known issues of it being a "gas chamber"

6. On 6 August a new engine was flown from Prestwick via Toulouse to Valencia to replace the engine which had caught fire due to a failed ball bearing

7. Cabin crew and pilots were advised not to speak with passengers or media about the incident

8. The plane, G-MEDN is now back in service operating as BA1488 London Heathrow to Glasgow

Just a few last points....

Before the LHR flight even took off I noticed a foul, chemical smell. I remarked on this a number of times. We now know other passengers noticed this too and complained to Cabin Crew halfway through the flight. This is known as a Fume Event. Did you know you should formally report this? I didn't until the last few weeks....

The last few weeks have been a crash course in learning about the insidious secret airlines don't tell you....we fly being constantly exposed to toxic fumes that provide our breathing air. This "air" which is generated by the very engines that fly our planes contains organophosates which are known to be carcinogenic. Most of the time these fumes are low level, but on an increasing number of occasions reports are coming in that the levels are dangerous and have led to planes being grounded, emergency evacuations and now a number of cabin crew, pilots and even passengers with life limiting/threatening illnesses and in some cases death.

Airlines have the option to use filtration systems at a cost of £10-30k per plane which would remove the threat to their pilots, Cabin Crew and passengers. There are no filtration systems on planes except the large dreamliners. The air filtration issue has been known by the airline industry for over 50 years. It seems the allure of big money is more important than passenger safety.

BA are trying to fob us off. They hope passengers will forget about the incident above and not come looking for answers, but after that experience I believe we deserve those at the very least. Please retweet and help hold British Airways to account.

If you read this far, thank you and well done

On Sep 10th 2019 Spain's CIAIAC reported the aircraft landed on Valencia's runway 12 and stopped at the turn off. The crew declared Mayday and initiated an emergency evacuation due to a possible fire on board. No injuries occurred, the aircraft sustained minor damage. Later it was found that no fire had occurred, but engine #2 (V2533, right hand) had lost all its oil. The engine was removed from the airframe and sent to the manufacturer for thorough inspection.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Aug 5, 2019


Flight number

Valencia, Spain

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

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