Airbus A340-313, 6Y-JMP and Boeing 777-222, N781UA
The holding area for Runway 27L at London Heathrow Airport is wide enough for two ‘heavy’ aircraft to position side by side and aircraft entering this area essentially follow a single yellow taxiway centreline, which then splits into two parallel lines. Prior to departure, an Airbus A340 was stationary, well short of the N2W traffic bar behind an Airbus A320, which was stopped at the NB2W traffic bar, in the holding area awaiting its turn to line up. It was positioned on the southern most line, on the right of the holding area. Whilst in that position, a Boeing 777 was instructed to taxi forward and hold on the left of the holding area. As it passed behind the A340, the handling pilot made use of reference points within the cockpit to assure wingtip clearance from the A340’s tail but, as he continued along the northern taxiway line, the right wingtip of the B777 made contact with the left winglet of the A340. At the point of contact, the B777 had not reached the section of the line parallel to that upon which the A340 was parked. Although the B777 flight crew thought that the A340 was closer than it might be at other airports, this was not considered unusual for Heathrow. Four recommendations are made addressing issues arising from the preservation of Cockpit Voice Recorder data.
Date of occurrence: 14 July 2004