back to article British Airways sorry for 'landing on water' nonsense

British Airways has apologized for telling 275 passengers en route from London to Hong Kong that their Boeing 747 was in imminent danger of crashing into the sea. “This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water,” an announcement sounded. The plane was flying over the North Sea at the time. …


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  1. Anonymous John

    Undue stress?

    I thought I was the only person in the world who listened to announcements on public transport. Looks like I'm not unique.

  2. Bucky 2

    A la Carol Burnett?

    This puts me in mind of an old sketch on the Carol Burnett show. Marty Feldman was the guest.

    The scene was two pilots in the cockpit of a 747 on a long flight on autopilot. To break the tedium, they decided to make vague announcements over the intercom, like "Please do not panic; everything is under control" and "The wings are not on fire."

    The flight attendant (Vicki Lawrence, I think, but it could have been Carol herself--it's been a while) would pop in and out and report on the reactions of the passengers.

    It ended when the flight attendant reported that a passenger had gotten up out of his seat to use the restroom. Marty Feldman ended the sketch with the line, "Party Pooper," and an eye roll.

    Good times.

    1. skellious


      surely this is a copy of the Python's sketch of almost identical nature?

      see link:

      by the sounds of it the python's ending was much better too!

  3. Number6

    Hi Monty!

    "This is your captain speaking. There is no cause for alarm". Perhaps someone told them that John Cleese was on board.

  4. The Cube
    Thumb Up

    They could at least have done it on an Airbus

    Then the passengers might have hoped to survive the "landing on water".

    Of course, the grammar police should also be having words with BA regading how, exactly, one lands on water, land being solid stuff with rock and soil whilst water is generally accepted to be more liquid and less land-like.

    Perhaps the announcement is glossing over the bit inbetween the Boing 747 hitting the water at a couple of hundred knots and the resulting debris hitting the sea bed, mostly still seatbelted in?

    1. nickrw

      Re: They could at least have done it on an Airbus


      "This is an emergency. We may shortly need to make an emergency watering"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Oh that

        Makes you feel nice and warm on a cold day but naetheless not to be recommended - the cold will soon return.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      I was not aware of Scarebus' particularly good track record of landing on water...

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        It isn't strictly a "track".

        2009: "The pilot of an airliner that ditched in New York's Hudson River has been hailed a hero after all 155 passengers and crew were rescued." Airbus. (It did, however, sink. But not quite immediately.)

    3. peyton?

      I believe the term you want

      Is "ditching".

      1. Adrian Challinor

        I believe the term you want

        is "Crashing".

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      So, what would you call it?

      I don't think it would contribute to panic management if they would call it "cash" on water, so "land" is the only other applicable word. It also indicates they still have a degree of control, but they would probably say that anyway even if the wings just fell off..

    5. Gav

      Now go stand in the corner of the cockpit and face the wall

      You are quite right. Imminent death and a cold and watery grave is no excuse for incorrect grammar. If we tolerate this kind of sloppiness we are no better than beasts in the field.

      I trust if and when this ever happens, the black box recording will end with the captain being given a sharp talking to by a conscientious traveller. There must be at least one person on every plane who feels that proper English is worth storming the cockpit for.

    6. DJ 2

      Remember the Hudson landing?

      I met one of the investigators in a bar, 20+ pilots all tried simulated water landings. All pancaked the craft. It was a fluke of wind water and waves.

      They should say.

      "We will soon be crashing into the sea, please return to your seat an put on your life jacket so we can identify your remains."

    7. ian 22

      Airbus designed to "land" on water?

      So its the Jesus plane then?

      It must be said- Boeing teach their pilots to avoid crashing into water. When will Airbus catch up?

      Mine's the life vest with "BA" on the back.

      1. The Beer Monster

        BA on the back...

        Which one?

        British Airways or "I ain't getting on no plane, fool!"

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


          I see lots of Scarebus fans here. Is it some kind of brand loyalty, support for the local manufacturer or superstitious hope that because most of short-haul European aircraft are Airbuses then if you praise it more you will be less likely to crash in one?

          The thing is there is not enough data points to say whether an Airbus or a Boeing or an Embraer or whatever is inherently safer than other a/c in a ditching situation.

          Examples of most manufacturer's a/c were ditched more or less successfully over the years. The recent Hudson River accident has only one significance to it - it's recent and as such people tend to remember it more. But to base your belief that Scarebus is safer on that one accident is a mistake.

  5. JaitcH

    A BA Miracle? Not even Speedbirds can land on water!

    Having worked on Met Office Weather Ships, formerly based in Greenock, Scotland, the chances of even BA (British Ar*eholes), another rotten flag carrier, likely couldn't make it as so much information is needed by the pilots including surface wind speed and direction, wave height and direction.

    And what the hell are they using automated announcements for? Is this another crew reduction scheme by little Willy Walsh?

    In any event, it's cheaper to fly AirAsiaX to Bangkok and onward by another LCC or, for people with more money, take Thai to Bangkok, have a clean-up break, then a quick flight on to HKG. If you want to fly non-stop nothing beats Cathay. They all make BA cabin service look terrible, which it is!

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Automated announcements....

      ....sound like an excellent idea to me, in an emergency. A nice clear, concise, pre-determined message from a recording, versus a panicked, scrambled message from a flight attendant who is pretty sure they are about to die.

      Of course, this rather pre-supposes that there is actually an emergency when the recording is triggered, but no system is perfect.


  6. Leo Maxwell

    Cleaning Bills

    Who will cover the dry cleaning bills, the airline or the travel insurers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you talking about clothes?

      Who had to clean the seats?

  7. Rogerborg

    Why the cock would that need to be automated?

    Cluebat: if there's nobody on the crew capable of making such an announcement, then trying to prepare the seat-ballast for a splashdown is pretty much moot.

    1. Dave Gregory

      Yeah, right

      'cos they clearly wouldn't have anything more important to do on their minds.


    2. Slartybardfast

      Engage Brain

      Of course there are people on the plan who can make an announcement. However, if you engage your brain for a second and think about it, the staff may be a bit too busy trying to land (water) the plane safely rather than spend time on the PA system making announcements.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      automated cock

      I've always wondered why they have so many buttons on fight decks, now we know, one for every conceivable announcement!

      I suspect the reason for automating it is to ensure that the announcers voice is stress free, think children's TV voice over "Hello children, we're going to crash!". A classic case of too many managers me thinks.

    4. Amazon Wageslave

      it actually makes some sense

      In a real emergency, the crew would be rather busy. So a pre-recorded message would lighten their taskload. The canned message would also be clear and intelligible. Something that may not be true if it were performed by a captain battling simultaneously to keep the plane airborne and issuing commands on a flight deck with alarms sounding.

    5. Anonymous Coward


      Think I'd rather have both the crew trying to sort the problem out than have one of them spending their time making cooing noises at the cattle in the back.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    BA are a load of useless bloody loonies.

    Arthur: So we’re actually going to land in a minute?

    CAPTAIN: Well not, not, not so much land in fact, I think as far as I can remember we’re programmed to, er crash on it.

    ARTHUR and FORD: ”Crash”?

    CAPTAIN: Yes. It’s all part of the plan. … I think. There was terribly good reason for it which I can’t… quite… remember at the moment.

    FORD: You’re a load of useless, bloody loonies!!

    CAPTAIN: Ah, yes, that was it, that was the reason. Pass me the loofah will you?

    1. lpopman
      Thumb Up

      titular golgafrinchamism

      BA should have a light-up sign with "Don't Panic" on it, in big friendly letters...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    brown out

    err, I'm not the best of flyers...and that sort of announcement would have probably caused me to have lowered my own undercarriage, as it were...not sure if my heart would've taken it either...but I would be asking BA to pay the resultant laundry charges! ;-)

    1. Lexxy

      New keyboard please!

      After being told that your chances of survival are much higher than originally anticipated I can imagine one would be left ashamed of the emissions from such an undercarriage for the rest of the flight.

      Guess you could laugh about it later ;)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The truth...

    It's a button in the Cabin Service Director's office, definitely human error.

  11. Tom Jasper
    Paris Hilton

    S/W Airlines had more finesse

    I recall flying with my wife and 5 year daughter between SF & LA on S/W airlines in 2000 where the safety announcements included "offensive passengers will be removed from airline during flight" and "In case we have to bring the plane down in water we hope that it will become a boat".

    The same flight also had my daughter making announcements and the cabin crew singing her songs over the tannoy.

    The return flight was equally memorable where the cabin steward slipped me his phone number, much to my surprise and my wifes amusement.

    Paris because I can't imagine her being treated so well on S/W Airlines

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I had a Delta flight attendant start the safety stuff with, "There are fifty ways to leave your lover, but only eight ways to leave this aircraft..." There was some singing, too. It was quite a bit more fun than the usual boilerplate.

      1. Gaz Jay
        Thumb Up

        It must be US Airlines!

        I was on an American flight between LAX and Las Vegas. Just after they closed the doors on the plane, the captain came out of the cockpit and told us in person that we should feel safe because the cockpit door is bulletproof.

        This was in 2005 - I guess Sept 11th still haunts AA pilots!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All explained here...

  13. Melanie Winiger

    Happened before

    Crew hit the wrong button - woops, Evac warning.

  14. gimbal

    Well at least they kept a politically correct style, about it

    I mean, they could've said something like, "Hey, creeps, put down that fried chicken and get your water wings on", and "Ahhh forget that, d-bags at the tower clicked the wrong button while they were Facebooking"

    That might've been more fun, though, admittedly.

    ...probably not as classic as the style of the Monty Python crew, though.

  15. alien anthropologist
    Paris Hilton

    ..missing the point

    .. as the point is that you press that special emergency announcement button just as that sexy blond is entering the toilet stall. You then look deep into her eyes and say something corny.

    Paris icon of course.. as I know it will work with her.

  16. Graham Bartlett


    How many of them were time-served glider pilots? If you're flying powered all the time, you'll assume you can adjust the throttle. If you're a glider pilot, you know that landings are a one-shot can't-change-your-mind deal. Same as the Gimli Glider - you need someone on the controls who's used to the situation.

    But that said, you also need a plane which maintains control if it loses both engines. And which stays afloat for long enough to let the passengers get out safely if you do ditch. Airbus scored on both of those counts.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      I'd like to reassure you

      "But that said, you also need a plane which maintains control if it loses both engines. And which stays afloat for long enough to let the passengers get out safely if you do ditch. Airbus scored on both of those counts."

      Any plane allowed to operate in scheduled airline service by law must be able to do all of the above unless it loses the engines together with the wings. If it can't, it will never be certificated by any civil aviation regulator (FAA, CAA etc.).

  17. Mike Dolan

    Ah - good old announcements

    I remember being on an Easyjet flight years ago where the cabin crew had a great sense of humour. Some of the gems:

    "While we are taxiing to the stand, please remain seated. Our pilots are great on the air, but their parking is questionable so may break hard and we dont want to have to clean up your blood".

    "Our cabin crew are here for your safety. While some of you may have seen these announcements, just remember that your newspaper is unlikely to help you if we fall out of the sky"

    "Anyone caught smoking will be asked to sit outside"

    1. Scott A. Brown

      Another EasyJet Gem

      "In the event of a loss of pressure in the cabin, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Please put your own mask on before placing masks on your children. If you have more than one child, choose your favourite and place theirs on next"

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