The Boeing 777 - the type of aircraft involved in a crash-landing at Heathrow - was launched in 1995.
There are 667 Boeing 777s in service around the world
There are several hundred of the aircraft - known as the "triple seven" - in service around the world. It has two engines, and experts say it is extremely reliable.
The particular Boeing 777 involved in the Heathrow incident was manufactured in May 2001.
It was a 200ER (Extended Range) model, powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 800 engines.
Its last routine maintenance check was in December 2007.
The 777-200ER was rolled out by Boeing in 1996 and went into commercial operation the following year.
It has the largest landing gear of any commercial aircraft, and with six wheels on each main landing gear and two on the nose gear, it has what Boeing calls an "unmistakable footprint".
It can fly at up to 41,300 feet and has a range of up to 7,700 nautical miles.
With a light load, it can go from 0-60mph in six seconds.
There are more than 460 Trent 800 series engines in service around the world,
and industry sources said it was thought that there had never been an accident
of this kind involving a Trent before.
Kieran Daly from Flight International magazine said the Boeing 777 had an almost impeccable safety record.
"The 777 is an extremely reliable aircraft," he said.
"There have been no 777 losses to date, which is a fairly impressive record considering how long it has been in service.
"It's hard to even think of any serious incidents."
He said the plane should still fly if one of its two engines failed, and that it was hard to understand what might have gone wrong.
"We're talking about one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, operated by one of the most safety-conscious airlines in the world, flying in to one of the safest airports in the world."
BA has 43 Boeing 777s in its fleet, of which are 16 are Boeing 777-200ER