God on board says pilot

The pilot in control of the British Airways plane that crash landed just short of the runway at Heathrow airport last week said the non-fatal outcome was an ''act of God''.

News Limited newspapers report co-pilot John Coward who was at the controls when the engines of the Boeing 777 failed over the neighbourhoods of west London just moments from Heathrow, spoke of Divine intervention.

''All the crew did their job absolutely brilliantly, but I think some thanks has to go to the man upstairs for giving us that little lift at the end.

''Normally in emergency situations, your training takes over,'' the 41-year-old said.

''But training does not 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 is going to be a major catastrophe'.

"We are intensively drilled in how to re-fire the engines. But in this case there was no time - just a matter of seconds.''

136 passengers and 16 crew escaped with their lives despite the plane crash landing on the grass.

In an initial report on the incident, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said that the twin engines had failed to respond to the throttles at a height of about 180m and 3km from touchdown.

21 Jan 2008