March 2, 2020 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Suspected Fire in Galley, Smoke Forces Emergency Landing

While en route from London Heathrow Airport to JFK Airport, New York, in the initial part of British Airways flight BA-179, the captain of a Boeing 777-36 was called by the senior cabin crew member to inform him of a suspected fire in the aft galley

• • • 

The incident began on August 24, 2019, at 5:40 p.m. The flight was a commercial air transport (passenger), with a crew of 17 and with 302 passengers onboard the aircraft. The crew declared PAN PAN, as they suspected the fire was in the aft cabin.

Shortly afterward, a cabin crew member confirmed that blue smoke was emanating from the oven unit. The cabin crew carried out their fire drill, and the flight crew completed the “smoke, fire, or fumes” checklist. The flight crew then informed ATC (Air Traffic Control) of the event.

After electrically isolating the aft galley, the rate of smoke production reduced; however, smoke still remained in the area

The captain made the decision to divert to Shannon, Ireland, where an uneventful overweight landing and disembarkation took place.

VisionSafe.com reports that: 

The crew decided to divert to Shannon and dump fuel while heading direct toward to Shannon’s approach fix for the ILS runway 24. The aircraft entered a hold at FL060 to complete dumping fuel and continued for a safe landing on runway 24 about 35 minutes after leaving FL340. Emergency services checked the aircraft, but found no trace of fire, heat or smoke. The aircraft taxied to the apron.

Passengers reported an acrid burning odor developed in the aft cabin. It was believed a galley oven in the aft galley emitted the odor and smoke. Cabin crew disconnected electrical power from the galleys. They were taken to hotels and rebooked onto other flights.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground for about 5 hours, then positioned to London Gatwick.

There were no injuries to any of the passengers. Examination of the aft galley oven by the operator’s engineers found that an electrical fault in an oven fan unit had caused the smoke. The fan unit was replaced and the aircraft returned to service. No further investigation of the oven fan unit was conducted by the operator.

The investigation and report originate from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Gov.UK. AAIB investigation to Boeing 777-36, G-STBB

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2 Replies to “Suspected Fire in Galley, Smoke Forces Emergency Landing”

  • John Faulks says:

    Hi Mark,
    A significant cost, disruption and potential reputational/brand impact to British Airways. I’m a little surprised by your summary that the fan unit was replaced without further investigation and a one-liner to say it was just an electrical fault.
    The pilots & crew did the right thing by following procedures and diverting the aircraft accordingly. I wonder why this wasn’t treated as a serious near loss based on potential for other/related electrical faults and fires?

    • Susan Napier-Sewell says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your remarks. I am actually the author of this article and take full responsibility for its content. The article was based on the full report of the Gov.UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch. As you can see in the article, I used the report in full. Here is the information from the article (and from the report I received via email): The investigation and report originate from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Gov.UK. AAIB investigation to Boeing 777-36, G-STBB.

      You can understand that, given that limited information in the report, it would have been both irresponsible and presumptuous to go beyond what the report delineated.

      Keep reading! We really appreciate your comments and insights.

      All the best,
      Susan Napier-Sewell

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