Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 19:51 UK

Jumbo push over greenhouse gases


The jumbo jet has become an unlikely climate symbol

It may seem an unlikely mascot for the environmental movement, but climate change campaigners are using an old jumbo jet to encourage the public to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

BBC Scotland environment and transport correspondent David Miller explains how the plane made aviation history when it landed safely, despite losing power to all four engines after flying through a cloud of volcanic ash.

It's June 1982 and the British Airways jumbo, The City of Edinburgh, is en route from Heathrow to Australia and New Zealand.

In the night skies above Java, the plane flies through a cloud of volcanic ash and loses power to one of its four engines.

As the flight crew try to establish what has caused the problem, the situation suddenly spirals out of control.

Capt Eric Moody was in charge of the flight that night.

In a BBC interview Capt Moody later recalled: "Almost immediately, the engineer then said 'Number two's gone, number three's gone' and then something like 'golly gosh, we've lost the lot'.

"We were the proud possessors of the world's heaviest glider."

In the next thirteen minutes, the plane dropped 24,000ft (7,315m).

By now, BA flight 009 was just just minutes away from crashing into the Indian Ocean.

Capt Moody and the rest of the flight crew were under intense pressure but remained calm.

The captain used the public address system to tell passengers: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very small problem in that all four engines have stopped.

"We're doing our utmost to get them going and I hope you're not too distressed."

There was no panic among the passengers on board but many of them believed they were going to die.

One wrote a note to his wife saying: "Ma. In trouble. Plane going down. Will do best for boys. We love you. Sorry. Pa."

As the plane glided towards the sea, the flight crew continued working to restart the engines.

After almost fifteen terrifying minutes, the engines roared back into life and against the odds, Capt Moody managed to land safely in Jakarta, saving the lives of his passengers and making aviation history.

10:10 tag
It's just the most brilliant metaphor for climate change, wearing a piece of jet as a fashion accessory
Eugenie Harvie
Director, 10:10 campaign

At the time, this was the longest glide ever recorded in a non-purpose built aircraft.

Betty Tootell was one of the passengers on board. She told how the incident had changed her attitude to life.

"Many thoughts passed through our minds," she said. "It was not a pleasant time, I cannot pretend anything other than that. There was no panic.

"I think the important thing to concentrate on is the positive side of this. I think it made us value each day as it comes."

Thirty years later, the Boeing 747 has reached the end of its career.

The plane once known as The City of Edinburgh, code-named Speedbird Nine, has been ripped to pieces in a scrapyard in Lincolnshire. It's an ignominious end for an aircraft which made headlines around the world.

But the jumbo is continuing to make history by playing a key role in the 10:10 campaign against climate change.

The aim of that campaign is to encourage individuals and organisations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent in 2010.

Supporters who sign up can claim a small metal tag in the shape of the campaign logo. But this small piece of metal has a much more interesting history than first meets the eye.

That's because campaign supporters are being given the chance to own their own small piece of the jumbo. The fuselage of the City of Edinburgh has been melted down and is being used to produce the tags.

Only option

Eugenie Harvie, director of the 10:10 campaign, says: "We wanted to have a symbol for the campaign, something that people could wear to signify that they're part of it and are doing their bit.

"We came up with the idea, as you do, of melting down a bit of a jumbo jet and making tags that people could wear.

"It's the 10:10 logo made out of a piece of jet and it's just the most brilliant metaphor for climate change, wearing a piece of jet as a fashion accessory."

Hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals have already signed up to the 10:10 campaign, pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Captain Moody, who's now retired, has followed developments with interest.

He says he's disappointed the plane he piloted to safety in such dramatic circumstances has been broken up, but accepts that was the only option for its final owners.

The jumbo jet Captain Moody piloted to safety has met the most unlikely of ends. But it's role in a high profile environmental campaign has also ensured the tale of the City of Edinburgh isn't forgotten.

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