BA flights may have been grounded due to insect infestations

Air investigators reckon the sudden grounding of three BA flights might have been linked to insect infestations.

The Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) announced an inquiry into the reversal of three flights out of Heathrow Airport, west London, after issues with their navigation systems.

Researches think the planes' pitot tubes, which help measure speed and air pressure, may have been blocked up by "a form of insect infestation", SurreyLive reports.

Between June 9 and 11 this year three BA departures out of the UK's busiest airport were swiftly grounded after tech issues.

At the time the CAA said there were safety concerns with the three planes.

BA told SurreyLive: "Safety is always our highest priority and we, like other operators, are conducting additional checks in line with the CAA's recommendations.

"As the AAIB investigation continues it would not be appropriate to comment further."

The swarm of insects theory could easily be true, with fatal crashes credited to infestations of insects at just the wrong time.

In 1996, 189 people died onboard Birgenair Flight 301 after wasps built a nest inside the crucial tube, leading the pilot to get an incorrect reading of the air pressure.

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The Boeing 757 crashed shortly after take-off on its way from the Dominican Republic to Frankfurt, Germany.

Thankfully air traffic controllers grounded the three BA jets before they faced such risk.

But the investigation's findings so far suggest there was a real threat of serious accidents.

An AAIB spokesperson said: "We have launched an investigation into a number of incidents that have been reported to us concerning insects blocking pitot probes on aircraft.

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"Several incidents are being examined as part of one investigation."

A CAA spokesperson added: "Following three events in June, where aircraft pitot tubes become blocked, the CAA has reminded UK airlines and maintenance organisations of the safety action required to bring back to service aircraft that have been in storage or limited use.

"All three incidents are subject to ongoing investigation by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

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"Early indications are that the tubes may have been blocked by insects.

"The AAIB investigation will aim to definitively confirm the cause of the incidents.

"Its reports are published on its website in the public domain. We have no further details on the incidents at this time."

Heathrow Airport was contacted for comment.

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