View Full Version : Pax bring a can of petrol on to a BA flight

10th Sep 2002, 08:23
Being reported by Associated Newspapers this morning ...

A British Airways pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after two passengers carried a five-litre can of petrol onto a packed London-bound flight as hand luggage.

The fuel, enough to blow up the airliner, was taken on board the Boeing 737 flight at Naples after the pair, believed to be Irish musicians, walked openly through security checks.

The alarm was raised less than half an hour after flight BA2607 left Italy at 10.15am yesterday, bound for Gatwick, with 132 mostly British passengers. As the plane took off petrol started leaking out of the container, which had been put on the floor at the men's feet.

Cabin crew alerted the captain, who immediately decided to abort the flight and landed at Rome airport, where the two men were arrested.

Today BA was conducting a major investigation into how security systems at Naples failed to register the plastic can as a danger and no security staff intervened.

The astonishing incident came as security was tightened in London in the build-up to the anniversary tomorrow of 11 September. The two men apparently did not realise they were doing anything wrong and told police they used the petrol to fuel a portable generator for their electric guitars. Chris Yates, Jane's Civil Aviation security editor, said: "Petrol is an explosive fluid. You just open the can, ignite the fumes and the whole thing goes up.

"The dangers are obvious. Anything that goes off in a passenger cabin would cause a rupture in the skin of the aircraft, substantial damage and then potentially bring it down."

The flight had been due to arrive in London at 2.10pm, but many passengers did not arrive until 10 hours later as they were put on board other flights from Rome.

The BA aircraft was grounded at Rome while the spilt petrol was dealt with. Melvyn Searle, 49, a food company managing director from Newcastle, was on the flight with wife Denise, 40. He described their ordeal as " terrifying" when they finally arrived at Heathrow at 10.30 last night.

Mr Searle said: "We saw the two Irish men queueing up and they clearly had a big can of petrol with them. It was a jerry can, about a foot and a half high and a foot wide. They were at the back of the plane and had it by their feet and when the plane took off it started leaking."

He added: "When the stewardesses smelled the petrol they started looking out of the window to see if the engines were on fire. Then the captain went on the intercom and told us there was a 'problem with fuel' so we had to stop at Rome. You can imagine how much that scares people when you are thousands of feet up in the air."

Mrs Searle said: "When the captain came down to speak to his staff after they had been taken off he looked as white as a sheet".

A British Airways spokesman said: "We don't know how they managed to get on. We are talking to the airport authorities and looking at our own procedures."

A Foreign Office spokesman said two British nationals had been arrested and one had been charged by Italian police with breaking air transport regulations. Both have now been released.

10th Sep 2002, 09:00
This just beggars belief!

How on earth did they get away with this?!

10th Sep 2002, 09:19
Angels , ever been to Naples airport?

10th Sep 2002, 09:23
Security higher after 11/9???!!:confused: :confused: :eek:

10th Sep 2002, 10:14
Clarification is required here - were the individuals Irish Musicians or British Nationals as per the Foreign Office spokesman??? Which sounds more threatening and sensational? I do not like the tone of the early part of the post where it is contradicted in the last paragraph.

I have seen people try to take live chickens and cats into the cabin as well as gas stoves for cooking. This was not unusual for these people and their intention was certainly not to cause chaos - it's just plain ignorance or lack of clear thinking. The huge element of blame lies with Naples Airport Security.

Just like individuals (from all regions) who think that they can open a window for some "more air" whilst at 20,000 ft - the pax cannot be charged except in a kind of Darwin award way - extreme idiocy - but as far as racial profiling goes - tread carefully.

This is an indictment of security at Naples airport and saftey standards for that specific airport. The racial profiling harem-scarem aspect is not appreciated.

Am I being overly sensitive here? The main thing is - it was NOT as serious incident in any way and it would appear they were British Nationals (as per the 1949 Citizen's Act). Okay?

10th Sep 2002, 10:41
Nope, never been through Naples airport.

But as Paxman says, this seems to be an astonishing lapse.

I'm also a little concerned that these characters weren't picked up while boarding. I realise cabin crew are very busy when the pax embark, but a ruddy jerrycan as hand baggage?

Phew! :confused:

10th Sep 2002, 10:46
Passengers should be re-assured by the news that BA crews operating out of Naples receive THOROUGH security checks before boarding, cannot take nail clippers on board, and their long-serving spouses etc are considered security risks and not allowed in the flight deck.

The lunatics are in control.

10th Sep 2002, 10:48
Whilst the full name of this sceptred isle in which I live is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", I believe its nationals are commonly referred to as "British Nationals" rather than the more correct "UK Nationals". Thus using the wider definition of "British Nationals" to mean those with UK passports, were they originally from the six counties and possessing a musical bent, it would be quite correct to call them "Irish Musicians" and "British Nationals".;)

This hair splitting apart, could those in the know say if they would have expected the flight attendants to have noticed the apparent 5 litre pertol can being carried on?


10th Sep 2002, 11:27
This is really astounding.

This is such far step backward that it is beyond belief... You have to go back to the 70s to see this kind of stupidity, back in the bad old days when a plane every week was landing in cuba. Bring flamable liquid on board. Spread it around. Hold up lighter, land in Cuba. I don't think they ever used a five gallon can though. Usually something like a "fifth"

Crimeny. Now where is that person that was saying that BA was safer than Ryan air because the quick turns were unsafe from a security point of view?

This is where I use that great English expression "Gobsmacked!"


10th Sep 2002, 12:06
...lets hope there is room within the Dangerous Goods Regs. for these idiots to have the book thrown at them (the big ICAO one that details all this stuff)

Even an empty (but used) can would contravene the Regs, AFAIK.

Oh, and that BA sue them for Operational costs incurred aswell.

10th Sep 2002, 13:07
As British Nationals you have to ask "From which British Airport did they fly to Naples from with all their music equipment?"
Petrol can no doubt included.

10th Sep 2002, 13:28
Melvyn Searle, 49, a food company managing director from Newcastle, was on the flight with wife Denise, 40. He described their ordeal as " terrifying" when they finally arrived at Heathrow at 10.30 last night.

Mr Searle said: "We saw the two Irish men queueing up and they clearly had a big can of petrol with them. "

...and so dimwitted Melvyn and Denise calmly boarded the flight thinking nothing further of it?! You wouldn't have got me on that flight, and you would have had to arrest me to stop me from making a massive fuss about it!

Max Sectors
10th Sep 2002, 13:30
The whole system failed here, including the cabincrew and passengers. (Why did noone complain?)

I recently raised an eyebrow when someone tried to bring a 3 litre bottle of Jack Daniels onto the acft.

The Dangerous Goods section of my manual said that permitted exemptions include alcoholic beverages not exceeding 70%alc/vol when packed in containers not exceeding 5 litres.

I know petrol is far more flammable than whisky but surely 5 litres is too much.

10th Sep 2002, 13:40
This is all a bit mad, it's quite amazing that they simply walked through security with a can of petrol. 'Scuzzi sir will you be checking that can of petrol or taking it as hand luggage?
On another point, the fuel was required for a generator. Which was presumably in the hold also full of petrol. How scary is that?

I doubt if the can was leaking, it wouldn't need to, we all know how petrol vapour gets everywhere. Luckily smoking is banned on flights these days.

It's bad enough the two characters thought nothing of bringing petrol on an aircraft but the got through security, past the crew and finally the passengers that noticed they were carrying a jerrycan said nothing.
A comedy of errors there, only it wasn't funny.

10th Sep 2002, 14:15
Maybe they packed the petrol themselves, and weren't given it by anyone they didn't know ;)

10th Sep 2002, 14:54
You beat me to it Damian,why wasn't the [email protected] ,Mr Searle, "terrified" when he saw these two jokers in the airport building with the jerry can?

10th Sep 2002, 15:11

If you ain't been there you wouldn't believe it. They are just sooooooooooo incompetent.

But they look fantastic. Probably didn't even make it into the local paper.

10th Sep 2002, 15:29
This is the latest link on the BBC site... which seems to say they walked onto the aircraft with the generator not a fuel can.


10th Sep 2002, 16:20
Suggs, I think you're being a bit unfair there. As a Brit living in Spain, and seeing the lassez-faire attitude to life here {it's part of the charm}, the workers here {and in my experience Italy} shrug their shoulders and move the problem onto somebody else.
Nothing changes....

10th Sep 2002, 16:25
Spot on Maxi, the ground staff in Naples are only concerned with:

a. Looking good, and a lot of them do!
b. Getting rid of their problem, i.e. you ASAP
c. Doing as little as possible to get by, or so it seems anyway.

This is what happens when you remove your own highly trained company staff who actually know what they are doing from your outstations and employ neddies from the lowest bidder you can find. Unbelievable!

huw stunn
10th Sep 2002, 17:59
It seems that the item is not a 5 litre jerry can but a small petrol electrical generator with a capacity of less than 3 litres. But then I guess the Italians are exagerating again and it will end up as a box with a BP sticker on it.

Like the guys said above - the security at some European airports is crapo.

10th Sep 2002, 19:23
Last month all check in agents at the Stansted based low cost carrier I work for were informed that we had to ask all passengers whether they were carrying dangerous goods in any of their luggage (checked, hand or on their persons). Any items found are then disposed off at check in - passengers are not to be trusted to put them in a bin themselves before they board.

Previously the signs and posters at check were deemed enough. We were told this new procedure was a CAA requirement now. Perhaps someone from another airline can state if they are having to do the same. So if the CAA requires it, and we, the UK, are part of the JAA, then surely every country in the JAA requires it? But sadly I do not think this is the case. It seems our colleagues in Naples are not as sharp as those in Stockholm now doesnt it? Not that we in Britain can hold our helds above the parapet after the recent incidents at Heathrow.

I hope these gentlemen are now made an example off, along with the staff at Naples. Maybe then the dangerous goods message will start to get through. My vote is for a custodial sentence, no less.

For those of you who would like to be enlightened as to what kind of things I have confiscated from passengers over the last month that are not permitted because they are dangerous goods, well it has ranged from paints to amil nitrate (is that how you spell it). Lying is no good either - if you are caught you will be prosecuted - knowingly taking dangerous goods on an aircraft is a major offence.

10th Sep 2002, 20:58
BOAC pity is that you are right!!

11th Sep 2002, 00:35
paxmanwithinfo Am I being overly sensitive here? The main thing is - it was NOT as serious incident in any way [sic]

The petrol leaked from the fuel tank of their generator (probably) because of the pressure difference and vibration might have eased the lid.

Irrespective of quantity, petrol (as most folk know) is highly volatile and vaporises readily. Therefore, it would have been able to circulate freely throughout the air conditioning equipment of the aircraft and permeate the air in all corners of the cabin.

"NOT a serious incident in any way."

I disagree.

Kaptin M
11th Sep 2002, 01:18
Some pax, esp. those who fly infrequently, can be forgiven for their naievete wrt the dangers some items present at altitude, in a confined space.


:mad: THEY deserve the sack! :mad:

11th Sep 2002, 05:17
I think it would be unfair to make an example of a couple of workers when we know that virtually any other worker or supervisor/boss would have probably done the same in Italy. Why blame the poor old worker who is just doing the same as everybody else?
Perhaps the firing of the Italian Dept of Trandport Minister might encourage others that security is to be taken seriously.......?

11th Sep 2002, 06:01
Why do we constantly blame passengers for their lack of knowledge on aviation matters? To most of them an aeroplane is just another bus, truck, train or boat, which is a remarkable marketing achievement if you think about it. We don't check their IQ or level of technical understanding before taking their ticket money do we? Its up to the industry to enforce safety, and that means skilled groundstaff at all airports.

11th Sep 2002, 06:29
Exactly, we have the usual bunch of prigs demanding custodial sentances etc. Not all are aware of the nuerotic state of aviation these days and this was in all probability a act of ignorance not malice. Ultimately the problem is with the security staff.