What Happened to 263 Passengers? Case Study of British Airways Flight 009 | Air Crash Investigation


British Airways

One night, a British Airways plane was suddenly covered by a bright light balloon while flying at 37,000 feet.

Due to this Plane`s electric systems failed, and all four engines shut down one after the other.

Was this plane attacked by aliens from another world?

What happened to the 263 people on the plane?

Stay connected with us to unveil this mysterious secret of the aviation world

Case Study

24 June 1982, Heathrow Airport of London, which is one of the biggest & busiest airports in the world.

British Airways flight 009 was preparing to fly from London to Oakland with a stopover in Mumbai & Kuala Lumpur.

This was Boeing 747 -200 series modern plane with four Rolls-Royce engines.

In the first and second part of its journey, the plane completed its flight from London to Mumbai and then from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur.

Now for the third part of its journey at Kuala Lumpur, the plane was preparing to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Perth. New pilots and crew members were assigned to this flight to complete this phase of the journey.

The responsibility for flying the plane from here was of 41-year-old Captain Eric Henry Moody, 32-year-old Senior First Officer Roger Greaves, and 40-year-old Senior Engineer Officer Barry Townley-Freeman.

Kuala Lumpur

After completing the normal boarding process, new pilots and crew members went to prepare the plane for the next flight. The flight takes off from Kuala Lumpur airport at its scheduled time.

Following the route specified by the Air Traffic Control Tower, the plane reached a height of about 37000 feet and the pilot put the plane on autopilot. Everything was normal on the flight and all the passengers were comfortably enjoying drinks and food services.

At around 8.40 pm, the plane was flying over the Indian Ocean, when the pilots saw a strange bright light in front of the plane. Before the pilots could understand anything, the strange light covered the whole plane.

Alien Attack

Initially, the pilots thought that it might be a light emanating from the clouds. But the flight weather sensor did not give any kind of cloud or bad weather information.

No pilot had seen such lights in their career. Due to this, a strange kind of fear and trouble was visible on everyone’s faces.

To understand the situation, the captain asked the first officer to check the passenger cabin.  When the first officer reached the passenger cabin, he was blown away by the sight there. Peeking out of the passenger window, he could see flashing lights around both wings. It seemed as if the plane was being attacked by aliens and they had taken control of the plane.

Horrified Passengers

There was also a strange light and bright smoke coming out of the engines.

The smoke slowly started entering the passenger cabin and in no time the passenger cabin was filled with strange smoke and smell.

There was a sound of small stones colliding on all sides of the plane, which caused panic among passengers.

Pilots were still trying to figure out what the strange light and smoke were when suddenly the flight engineer felt distressed and said that engine number 1 had stopped functioning. The Captain immediately asked the flight engineer to restart the failed engines.

Before the flight engineer could restart engine 1, engine numbers 2, 3, and 4, also failed. On seeing all this, the first officer immediately called on Mayday. This meant that now the plane can crash at any time.

Engines failed

Strange lights and flames were coming out of all four engines. After watching this the passengers got so much nervous and panicked that they started writing last letters to their friends and relatives.

The pilots were still trying to restart the engines so that the plane could be flown somehow even if one of the four engines was restarted.

But as said trouble never comes alone and the same happened with this plane. When Pilots were trying to restart the engines, suddenly all the electronic sensors and systems of the plane were turned off.

As soon as the plane’s all four engines and auxiliary power unit failed, the oxygen pressure in the cabin decreased.  Soon after the air pressure decreased in the cabin, oxygen masks started coming out of the plane ceiling. 

Failure notification

Due to so many simultaneous issues of system and engine failures, the pilots also got nervous for a short while. But after that, they tried to regain their courage to handle the situation and save the plane and life of all passengers. 

With no engine power, the plane had now dropped from 37000 feet to 26000 feet. Without the engine power, the plane was gliding forward, but it was also coming down at a much higher speed.

Now the biggest effort for the captain was to keep the plane gliding and land at a nearby airport by any means. At that time, the closest airport was Jakarta International Airport.

By calculating the height and speed of the plane, the captain started trying to figure out how far the plane could go without any engines. Here we would like to tell you that the glide ratio of this plane was 15: 1. Which meant that if the plane goes 15 meters forward, it will come 1 meter down. After doing all the calculations, once again the captain was disappointed. Because between the current location of the plane and Jakarta International Airport, there was a very tall mountain that could not be crossed without the engine power.

Glide Slope

While briefing the co-pilot and flight engineer, the captain said that now we have no other option but to take the risk. We will keep trying to restart the engines while gliding.

If the engines do not restart after reaching 12000 feet, then we will land the plane on the sea.

The captain announced to the passengers and said, “I am your captain.There is a problem with the engine of the plane, and we are trying to fix it. All of you are requested to work with courage and keep the peace”. Passengers closed their eyes and started praying to God. Everyone still hoped for some miracle and prayed that the plane would land safely.

With this, the cabin crew also started preparing to land the plane on the sea.

Gliding slowly, the plane now started coming down. And as the plane was coming down, that strange light started disappearing. Coming to 13000 feet, that strange light had completely disappeared.

As per the plan, when the flight engineer tried to restart the engine for the last time, a miracle happened and suddenly all the engines restarted.

As soon as all the engines started, the plane started flying up and passed smoothly over that mountain.

After all the engines restarted, the captain felt that everything was fine, and he started taking the plane back to its fixed height of 37000 feet. But as the plane started going up again, that strange light slowly started coming back and the plane’s engines started giving warnings again.

On seeing this, the captain reduced the height of the plane and fixed it at 12000 feet, where the strange light ended again, and the engines started working again.

The captain did not want to take any risk now and he started preparing to land the plane at Jakarta airport.

But there was still one problem left, due to that strange light, the windscreen of the plane became completely blurry due to which it was impossible to see anything.  Initially, the pilots wanted to get auto-landing using the ILS system, but unfortunately, the ILS landing system was not working at the airport that day.

Now the pilots had only one way to go to the traffic controller and perform the blind landing with the help of flight instruments only. With no view of the runway and just following ATC command, pilots started bringing down the plane. Everyone at the ATC tower and ground staff was panicking at started preparing for a crash landing.

Plane Landing

Due to the wisdom and courage of the pilots, the plane finally landed safely at the airport.

Everyone survived the incident. It was no less than a miracle that even after the failure of all four engines and all the systems at 37000 feet, the pilots landed the airplane safely and no one got injured. Pilots and flight crew were honoured with many awards for their success and courage

After this accident, when the plane was examined, it was found that there were marks like rubbing with small sharp stones all over the plane. Similar marks were also on the windscreen of the plane, due to which the windscreen became blurry. After examining the particles found on the plane, it was found that these are particles of volcanic ash.

After this information, the mystery behind the incident started to uncover.


On investigation, it was found that lava and smoke were coming out from a volcano that erupted a few days back in the hills of Jakarta. Dust and micro sulphite particles were present in large quantities in that volcanic ash.

These sand dust and micro sulphite particles reached at a height of 37000 feet along with the air. Because there were no water particles in this volcanic ash, the plane’s weather radar system could not even detect them.

These sand and sulphite particles when collided with the plane’s body and windscreen, a strange bright light was produced.

When this volcanic ash went into the engine of the plane, the sulphite particles present in it melted due to the heat of the engine and started depositing in the engine and all the engines got failed. And due to the electromagnetic effect created by these sand dust and sulphite particles, the rest of the plane’s electric system and APU unit also failed.

After coming to 12000 feet, when these sulphite particles broke and came out of the engines, all the engines were re-started again.

After this accident, this air route was closed and all the volcanoes around this area were regularly monitored so that such an accident will not happen again.

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