**Update: 23/11/20 @ 15:38 UTC – Statement made by British Airways. Additional information included below, including the cause of the fire.**
A British Airways Boeing 747 in Spain has caught fire, according to images from social media. The aircraft appears to be G-CIVD, one of the 747s currently located in Spain following the type’s retirement from the British Airways fleet.
A scrapped British Airways Boeing 747 has caught fire in Spain. Photo: Getty Images
Fire on retired, former British Airways 747-400
“Emergency services quickly extinguished the fire on one of our retired aircraft, which occurred during the dismantling process. No injuries were reported.” -British Airways
The aircraft is actually no longer owned by British Airways and has been retired from service for some time. Parked on a remote stand, the aircraft was marked for dismantling by its new owners at a regional airfield.
It’s believed that the fire was caused by the aircraft insulation catching a spark from dismantling equipment.
British Airways began an accelerated retirement of its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft earlier this year as a result of the huge drop in passenger demand being experienced globally. As a result, aircraft have been ferried to sites around Europe to be scrapped, preserved, or even turned into movie props. G-CIVD, the aircraft thought to have caught fire, last flew on August 18th on a ferry flight to Castellon.
While the exact time of the fire is unknown at the moment, we can see that the Castellón Airport’s Twitter feed reported the fire contained as early as 12:42 UTC.
Electrical problems in the past
Completely unrelated to today’s incident, G-CIVD has had electrical problems in the past. In fact, according to The Aviation Herald, the jumbo jet was operating flight BA177 from London Heathrow to New York JFK on October 20th, 2018, when the crew decided to return to London due to electrical problems. The decision to turn around was made not too far into the flight, about 800 nautical miles west of Shannon (Ireland).
The incident report goes on to say that a passenger reported the inflight entertainment system failed shortly after departure. Soon after, lighting in the cabin and lavatories failed as well. Issues got worse as power was then lost in the galley, with passenger overhead signs as the only lights remaining.
An unusual odor was reported by passengers and confirmed by the cabin crew. The aircraft subsequently turned around, announcing to air traffic services that the return to Heathrow was due to issues with one of the electrical systems.
ll British Airways 747s retired from commercial service
“They are an airliner of another era, however, and they burn far more fuel than the latest generation of planes and, logically, require more frequent and detailed attention from our engineering team.” -British Airways
The Boeing 747 has been serving British Airways and its predecessor BOAC for some 50 years, with the first Boeing 747, a -100, was delivered to BOAC in April 1970. Since then, the airliner developed further with the -200 and -400 also being delivered to British Airways. The last 747 delivery to British Airways occurred in 1999. Originally, the airline had planned to retire its aging 747-400 jumbo jet fleet by 2024. The catastrophic events of 2020 led to the accelerated retirement of the aging jets.