Heathrow crash pilot dismiss ‘hero’ label

LONDON, Jan 20, 2008 (AFP) – The co-pilot who averted disaster by safely landing his stricken plane at London Heathrow Airport told the Mail on Sunday newspaper he feared a “major catastrophe”. In an initial report on the incident, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Friday that the twin engines failed to respond to the throttles at a height of about 600 feet (180 metres) and two miles (three kilometres) from touch down.

John Coward, who was at the controls Thursday when the engines on his Boeing 777 failed over west London, has been hailed as a hero for his coolness under pressure.

He narrowly got the British Airways plane over the rooftops and the Heathrow perimeter fence before crash-landing on the grass, meaning all 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped with their lives.

But he does not consider himself a hero and said some of the credit had to go to an act of God.

“Normally in emergency situations, your training takes over,” the 41-year-old told the weekly tabloid.

“But training doesn’t help much when your engines have just died and you are still short of the runway.

“I tried to keep the aircraft straight and when we went down I remember thinking, ‘This i