British Airways 777 Altered Course to St Johns in Canada After Pilot is Incapacitated

A British Airways Boeing 777-200 parked at the airport terminal
A British Airways Boeing 777-200 being readied for takeoff

Incapacitation of one of its pilots led to a noteworthy incident involving a British Airways Boeing 777-200ER en route from New York-JFK to London-Gatwick (LGW). This flight, identified by its flight number BA 2272, took off from New York-JFK at 21:54 on March 14, 2024, embarking on what was expected to be a seven-hour and 50-minute journey back to London, where it was scheduled to touch down at 08:05 the following morning.

However, approximately three hours into its eastward journey, while cruising at an altitude of 40,000ft and 440 nautical miles northeast of St. John’s, the flight crew declared a state of emergency, citing the inability of one of the crew members to fulfill their aviation duties. Following discussions with air traffic controllers stationed in Canada, the flight deviated from its planned path over the ocean and redirected towards St John’s.

Subsequently, the aircraft successfully landed on runway 29 at St. John’s International Airport (YYT) around 02:00 on March 15, 2024 – a mere 80 minutes after the emergency situation was declared.

Flightradar24 screenshot showing a British Airways 777 aircraft altering its course mid-flight, with St. Johns in Canada highlighted on the map.
Flight Alteration: A British Airways 777 adjusting its course mid-flight, as tracked on Flightradar24 with St. Johns, Canada, highlighted on the map.

British Airways 777 Diverts to St. John’s After Pilot Incapacitation

A statement from the Canadian Transportation Safety Board mentioned, “At 04:42 UTC, a member of the flight crew contacted Gander Air Control Center to formally declare a medical emergency for a crew member who was deemed unfit to carry out their flight responsibilities.” The statement further detailed that permission was sought and granted to divert the flight to St. John’s International Airport in Newfoundland. The aircraft touched down safely at St. John’s at 05:59 UTC with medical personnel on standby.

The specific aircraft involved in this incident, one among British Airways’ fleet of 43 Boeing 777-200ERs registered as G-VIIP, was grounded at St. John’s for approximately 36 hours before resuming its journey to Gatwick on March 16, 2024. The return flight to its home airport took a duration of four hours and 18 minutes. Following its return, the aircraft successfully operated rotations from Gatwick to destinations such as Tampa (TPA), Bridgetown (BGI), and Orlando (MCO).

As for the passengers aboard the diverted flight, they were accommodated on another Boeing 777 aircraft (G-YMMJ) belonging to the same airline. Coincidentally, this aircraft was stationed in New York at the time of the diversion. It flew directly from New York-JFK to St. John’s under the identifier BA9156 before proceeding with the transatlantic segment of the journey, ultimately reaching London-Heathrow (LHR) with the affected passengers at 20:57 on March 15, 2024.

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