British Airways A380 forced to return to Heathrow

A Miami-bound British Airways Airbus A380 made a U-turn over the Atlantic yesterday (June 22) and returned to London/Heathrow, resulting in a six-hour flight to nowhere for the passengers on board.

According to an airline spokesperson, the superjumbo, G-XLEA (c/n 095), developed a “minor technical issue” after take-off and “returned to the airport as a precaution”.

BA207 departed the London hub at around 12.40pm local time for a nine-hour flight to the Florida city.

The aircraft spent two hours in its second hold as it burnt off fuel to achieve a safe landing weight.
The aircraft spent two hours in its second hold as it burnt off fuel to achieve a safe landing weight. Flightradar24

Approximately one hour later into the flight while travelling at 36,000ft over the Atlantic, the jet made a U-turn and entered a descent to 31,000ft. It then took up the hold just off the west coast of Ireland which lasted around 50 minutes. It’s believed that fuel dumping was carried out during this time.

A further descent to 25,000ft was then initiated before the Airbus A380 took up another hold, this time off the northern coast of Cornwall, which lasted around two hours.

G-XLEA is configured to seat 469 passengers in a four-class layout.
G-XLEA is configured to seat 469 passengers in a four-class layout. Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory

After reaching the correct landing weight, the flight routed back to Heathrow and landed safely at approximately 6.15pm local time.

In a statement to Key.Aero, a British Airways spokesperson, said: “We’ve apologised to our customers for the delay to their journey after their flight returned to the airport as a precaution following reports of a minor technical issue. The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so. Our teams are looking after customers and will endeavour to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”

G-XLEA is approaching its tenth year of flying with British Airways.
G-XLEA is approaching its tenth year of flying with British Airways. Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory

This is the second time this week that flight 207 has been forced to divert. On Monday (June 19), the service – operated by G-XLEK (c/n 194) landed in Orlando because of thunderstorms in Miami at the time.

G-XLEA, which is configured to seat 469 passengers in a four-class layout, is approaching its tenth year of service with the flag carrier as it was first delivered to BA on July 3, 2013.