BA Base

Pictures from a visit to British Airways Maintenance, Heathrow!

Concorde, 747-200, 747-400


Staff from British Airways Maintenance recently visited the laboratory where I work. As a reciprocal gesture, several staff from my lab were invited on a tour of the British Airways Maintenance facilities at Heathrow Airport.

On arrival, we were greeted and escorted to the massive hangars near the end of 27R. Luckily, our hosts were more than happy for us to take pictures during the visit. The thumbnail pictures below link to larger versions of the images. The photos were taken with a 35 mm camera, then transferred to PhotoCD by Kodak Laboratories.

The original high resolution PhotoCD scans of these photos are available if anyone wants them – use the feedback page to get in touch.

First port of call was a Concorde, G-BOAE, which was being prepared for the evening departure to KJFK. The Concordes take approximately six times the engineering effort to keep airworthy than other aircraft. Perhaps this is why the one way fare to NY is £4000! One particular problem is that there are no spares as such for these planes – all extra components are made to order. A complete elevon system at the back of the wing will set you back £1M. The Concorde fleet (7 at BA and 6 with AirFrance) is coming up to a major overhaul. They have now reached approximately double their original expected flight time and need a thorough strip down to allow them to continue to their maximum life (currently they have flown nearly 2400 cycles – original planned life was 1200 cycles each, and maximum lifetime is 6000 cycles – if I remember correctly). At the end of their ‘life’, if BA wishes to continue flying them, then each fuselage’s ‘crown’ (top cylinder section) will have to be removed and replaced. This is relatively easy on Boeings due to construction, but difficult for Concordes since they are through-rigged – i.e. the whole fuselage will need supporting if the crown is lifted – a major job!

Second visit was a BA 747-200. This model is being phased out by BA at the moment and has less than 2 years to run in the fleet. This ‘classic’ features the traditional Engineer’s seat behind that of the FO. The FD was quite cramped but interestingly the FD upper escape hatch was open (opposite and above the Engineering panel) giving a bit a fresh air. The power was active and several of the instruments were clicking (warnings?) and several lights were lit on the panels, indicating faults associated with systems that were under repair. The NAV1 VOR was still set to 113.60 – the LON VOR.

Final port of call was a 747-400. Unfortunately, the flight deck was unpowered so no ‘glass’ instrumentation was active. The MCP windows showed the default values of 200 kts, 000 deg, 10,000 feet. The place where the Engineer would sit in a classic was replaced by a ‘library’ containing manuals, charts, tech logs and a floppy disk storage locker – presumably for FMC NavData updates etc. There was a feeling of greater space then the old -200 and less clutter. I was itching to rotate the STBY POWER selector to AUTO, press the BATT switch and place the APU selector in START mode – but I resisted 🙂 I settled for a quick rest in the left hand seat, before vacating the cockpit.

Many thanks to all at BA Maintenance, especially Bob Moorhead, for a thoroughly interesting day!


Click on the picture to view the slideshow.

me captain chair 747-400

Pictures are ©2000, Andrew Lewis.
Let me know if you want a copy – higher resolutions (PhotoCD) available by email.

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