British Airways has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the City of Chicago after three of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners were left badly damaged and inoperable while they were at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
The airline says damage sustained to the three Dreamliner aircraft cost more than $3 million to be repaired and left hundreds of passengers stranded. Lawyers acting on behalf of British Airways claim the airline incurred significant additional costs because several flights had to be cancelled while the planes were fixed.
The damage occurred across two days last year on November 30 and December 1 when the three Dreamliners were taxiing around Chicago O’Hare. The lawsuit alleges that foreign object debris or FOD as it is commonly known was sucked into the engines and caused damage including to the inlet cowels.
All six engines were damaged so badly that the aircraft were left inoperable and had to be removed from service for “complete tear downs and inspections” of the engines. As British Airways doesn’t have a base in Chicago, the only option was for the airline to cancel several flights while the aircraft were fixed.
The repairs, including replacement of the damaged inlet parts, cost British Airways an estimated $3.2 million.
The lawsuit claims the City of Chicago is to blame for the damage because the airport is responsible for regularly inspecting runways and taxiways and quickly removing any FOD before it can do damage to an aircraft.
Significant construction work including runway resurfacing work and construction on the expanded Terminal 5 is blamed for causing the FOD that damaged the BA Dreamliner engines.
British Airways says the City of Chicago was negligent in failing to spot and remove the FOD and that it failed in its duties as an airport certificate holder. FOD is a serious issue at airports around the world and many airports pump significant resources into efforts to detect and remove debris that could cause damage to aircraft.
Some airports even utilise ground radar and sensors to help them spot FOD but most detection efforts lay with ground personnel who are required to carry out regular visual checks by driving up and down taxiways and runways.
Along with claiming the cost of the repairs, British Airways is also seeking an unspecified sum in damages for loss of use of the three aircraft, as well as lawyers fees.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week under case number: 1:21-cv-06371. The City of Chicago has not yet responded to the allegations.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.